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Want to learn how to keep your data safe with virtual assistants? Watch this video of our Managing Director, Richard Phu, about the tips and tricks you can use when working with remote team members:

Clients ask us this question all the time when considering outsourcing solutions. We completely understand their concerns because hiring remote staff can put your brand and company at risk.

You’re giving someone the responsibility of speaking on behalf of you and your company. Not to mention giving them access to some sensitive data, such as your passwords and bank details.

Plus, you’ve never even met this person face-to-face before! 😲

With countless businesses worldwide turning to digital platforms, cyber threats are also rising. Data security is now more important than ever.

But what is data security? And what are the security risks of Virtual Assistants?

Data security is simply protecting your data from being leaked outside of the company or used for malicious intent. “Data” refers to everything your business owns, from documents, log-in credentials, and marketing assets to images and product logos.

According to the University of North Dakota, some cyber threats to everyone’s data security include:

  • Password Attacks

    This involves tricking employees into breaking security protocols by giving unauthorised access to sensitive information. This is a social engineering attack.

  • Malware

    Viruses, spyware, and ransomware are types of malware. Hackers targeting your business with malware might corrupt your data, expose it to others, or withhold it in exchange for something else.

  • Denial of Service (DoS)

    Companies with a strong digital presence may be vulnerable to Denial of Service. It’s a cyber attack that “floods a computer or network so it can’t respond to requests.”

  • Man in the Middle (MITM)

    Hackers can insert themselves into a two-party online transaction with this method. You might be a target while dealing with a client or a co-worker! 😨

  • Phishing

    There were over 255 million phishing attacks in 2022 alone, according to messaging security provider SlashNext. Phishing uses fake forms of communication (emails, chats, etc.) to trick the recipient employee into opening a message.

    After that, a virus may latch onto that person’s computer. Or, it may relay suspicious instructions, so the recipient shares their private data unknowingly.

  • Structured Query Language (SQL) Injection

    Some company servers use SQL, and hackers may use this cyber attack method to take advantage. They’ll insert malicious code that releases the company’s information.

    Inserting malicious code can be “as simple as entering it into a vulnerable website search box”. 🫢

So, now you understand the importance of data protection. But before you worry about you or your company getting cyber-attacked in the next hour, here’s an important reminder from US cybersecurity company Imperva (emphasis ours):

“A large percentage of data breaches are not the result of a malicious attack but are caused by negligent or accidental exposure of sensitive data. It is common for an organization’s employees to share, grant access to, lose, or mishandle valuable data, either by accident or because they are not aware of security policies.

This major problem can be addressed by employee training, but also by other measures…”

Data security still comes down to human error. So when you’re hiring a virtual assistant, put up measures to prevent data breaches and other cyber threats from happening.

Security and privacy challenges of virtual assistants

At Outsourcing Angel, we understand the security and privacy challenges of virtual assistants. So, we assign each VA their respective Virtual Office Manager (VOM). Our VOMs oversee the communication between you and your VA through your preferred channels, such as Slack or WhatsApp. They work with you to ensure minimal miscommunications and misunderstandings.

Plus, we conduct a SWOT analysis for your business and contribute resources and recommendations to help. These check-ins also allow us to address any concerns you or your VAs may have.

Interested to see whether our solutions work for your business? Book a quick Discovery Call with our Outsourcing Specialist today!

Even with all existing cyber security concerns, data protection is one thing small & large businesses often overlook. Especially, when hiring a VA! In fact, according to, 51% of small businesses don’t even have cybersecurity measures in place. This leaves their customer data vulnerable to cyber threats and challenges.

Here are some consequences of neglecting your cyber security with virtual assistants:

1. Data breach

Without data protection, sensitive information from usernames to bank statements may leak to strangers outside your company. This could happen especially with VAs who post content for you or assist with crucial admin work.

Even the tech giant Apple has had experience with data breaches due in part to their many employees!

Image source: 10 of the biggest data breaches in history

2. Monetary loss

With great data breaches come great financial loss. If you look at the chart above, you’ll see that Yahoo lost over 3 billion back in 2016 because of a data breach.

The same scenario could happen with a VA. In fact, according to a study, 60% of small businesses that suffer a data breach go bankrupt within six months 😲 So, no matter the business size, financial loss is a grave consequence of indifference to data security.

Even if only one instance of data breach from your company becomes public, you’ll lose the trust of customers and investors—which compounds into significant monetary loss in the future. You could also compensate those affected by the breach.

3. Theft of intellectual property

Another security risk of virtual assistants is the theft of intellectual property. Intellectual property covers everything your business has developed, like marketing copies, specialised workflows, and product manuals.

Without data security, all these assets may end up with your competition or the public.

Tips on how to keep your data safe with virtual assistants

Our operations at Outsourcing Angel consider data security risks and our virtual assistants. Not only do we have Virtual Office Managers (VOM) looking out for each VA, but we also have regular check-ins with clients. Plus, we give clients access to subject matter experts for any concerns, including data protection.

That’s just for our client-facing side. For our day-to-day processes, we also practice some tips to keep safe from cyber threats.

Our Managing Director Richard shares simple ways of giving VAs access to log-ins, passwords, client information and more—in a secure, risk-free way.

Here are some of his data protection tips:

Tip #1: Create accountability using digital tools

For your business to thrive, it’s ultimately going to be online. This means you might hire a VA to represent you and your accounts sooner or later.

Regardless of your VA’s location (local or overseas), the security risks will be similar. So, the number one rule to have is to create accountability. As a business owner or manager, you must know who is making the changes in which assets. You must also know when these changes took place and why.

Digital tools are vital in keeping an organised log of all this information. Google Workspace and Dropbox are some accessible options you can try.

Tip #2: Restrict access levels

When setting up apps for your VA, you first have to answer the following questions:

1. Do they need access to this app to do their job?
2. Do they need admin access to apps they DO need?
3. Have I looked into each tool to see what my VAs can do with them?

Going through these concerns first is a must. This way, you can restrict access within your VA’s app accounts.

This is especially important if you’re looking to hire a specific VA. For example, you might only want to hire an admin virtual assistant. You’d have to give them access to your customers’ information, but NOT your personal social media branding accounts.

But let’s say you’re looking for a social media virtual assistant. You’ll have to give them access to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. It will not make sense for them to have admin access to expense management apps like QuickBooks or Wise.

It’s all about giving VAs the perfect amount of app access to do their job. So, take note of the questions above before onboarding your potential candidate!

Tip #3: Use a password manager tool

Password manager tools like Bitwarden go a long way toward giving you and your business some data security. They help test your passwords for strength and recommend additional layers of protection, such as masking.

You can mask passwords and give them to your VA so they can access apps on your behalf—and they’ll never know what the password was due to masking. The “password” field will be auto-populated without revealing the actual characters.

These tools usually work across mobile devices, web browsers, and desktop apps. So whatever device you use, you’ll have a degree of protection from cyber threats.

Tip #4: Change your passwords regularly

This one is a no-brainer. But many are still guilty of using the same passwords for years! For virtual assistants to keep your data secure, changing your passwords for all apps is a chore you must do.

Also, consider the turning-over process whenever you hire a new VA. Your previous employee should not be able to access your assets at all. Regularly changing your password will help to that effect.

Tip #5: Use randomly generated passwords

Use randomly generated passwords to keep you and your business safer from password attacks.

Remember: if you use passwords easily guessed from public knowledge (your surname, birthdate, and the like), you’ll more likely to lose data security.

With Bitwarden, you can generate strong passwords backed by end-to-end AES-256 bit encryption. Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256 is a “virtually impenetrable symmetric encryption algorithm that uses a 256-bit key to convert plain text or data into a cipher”.

The app also conducts regular third-party security audits and complies with major privacy and security regulations. On top of that, they use zero-knowledge encryption to ensure Bitwarden themselves do not have access to customer data.

Some people are worried about the third-party password tools themselves, which is understandable. After all, you’re also giving them access to all your sensitive information.

Last December 22, 2022, another online password management service called LastPass revealed hackers compromised their users’ data.

So, to practice data protection, keep up with the latest concerns in the industry and use randomly generated passwords—responsibly!

Tip #6: Use different passwords across different sites and apps

Using the same password for multiple sites is dangerous. If one app is compromised, then everything else is liable to be compromised!

Of course, we don’t expect you or your VA to remember several passwords for different sites. This is why secure password manager tools are important when working with a VA.

Tip #7: Turn on two-factor authentications for key apps

Major platforms like Facebook and Google Mail already use two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA is a method that asks users to provide an extra piece of information whenever they’re trying to log into an account. This information could come in different forms—One Time Passwords (OTPs), answers to “secret questions”, a fingerprint scan, and more. This process is to verify a person’s identity before giving them access to an account.

This option adds another layer of data security for you and your virtual assistant.

For a basic setup, we recommend turning on 2FA for these apps:

You may also add more to this list, depending on your business.

Tip #8: Create multiple folders on cloud-sharing sites (doesn’t cost extra!)

You can also organise your Google Drive, Dropbox, or other cloud-sharing apps based on access levels with multiple folders.

This way, you can split the information within the business among those who need to know it. Only select people—like you and your VA—will have access to specific drives.

As with any cloud storage-based solution, you can share a link with someone in the workplace—and you never know if they’re sharing it with others. Or share it with the public! 😥 So this is a way to restrict that scenario as much as possible, especially with sensitive data.

Hiring your first VA? You can start small! Begin by storing data inside another drive your VA will not need to see. This data could be your financial files or any key reporting. The main thing is to secure sensitive information in another area, for your eyes only.

At Outsourcing Angel, we have a public drive where we share templates, tools, checklists, procedures, guides and other resources with clients and our whole team. We also have a strategy drive only for admin members. Plus, a separate location for finance concerns. It’s best to try different ways of organising your assets until you find one that works for your business.

Tip #9: Back up your data

Cybersecurity experts call this method Data Loss Prevention or DLP. Backing up your data may be tiresome, but according to Imperva, “physical redundancy can help protect data from natural disasters, outages, or attacks on local servers”. Back-up data can help you & your VA get back to work in case of those scenarios.

For example, you can use another Google Drive account as storage. You could set aside duplicates of your most important files there. A flash drive is another option—a physical backup that only you can access.

Tip #10: Contractual agreements

This tip circles back to our first one, which was to create accountability using digital tools. With legally binding contracts such as Data Processing Agreements, Non-Disclosure Agreements, and Non-Compete clauses, you can keep your data safe with virtual assistants more effectively. That said, ask potential hires to read the fine print before coming on board!

Tip #11: Install Anti-Malware Software

Anti-ransomware and anti-viruses should also be part of your basic setup with a virtual assistant. This is to defend against mentioned cyber threats, such as phishing and malware.

Tip #12: Consult with an IT security expert about technical concerns

For most small businesses, using cloud-based services should be enough. But as your business grows, you might need to create your network for your office. This is called a Virtual Private Network or VPN. It adds security and anonymity to users when they connect to the Internet.

To set up a VPN, ask an IT security expert for help. Do note, however, that VPN will not always guarantee security. So no need to go the technical route if you’re only starting, or if you’re not in the finance business.

If you’re in finance or the like, whichever tool you use should have built-in security features. Plus, you should put in the right processes on how your VAs should use these tools to ensure data security.

Regardless of your business size, minimising the security risks of virtual assistants should be a top priority. As much as you want to practice transparency, it still should be within means and specific reason.

So, start protecting your data using these tips! Instead of worrying about cyber threats and data security risks, you can focus on growing your business while your VA takes on all time-consuming tasks

Book a free Discovery Call today!

At Outsourcing Angel, we help businesses set up a secure yet affordable digital ecosystem. Want to know if our solutions work for you? Book a FREE Discovery Call with our Outsourcing Specialist today!

Arielle Calanas

Arielle is Outsourcing Angel’s resident copywriter. She has over 9 years of writing experience and graduated magna cum laude in Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines Mindanao in 2019. Currently, she crafts high-engagement content that reflects our brand voice, from client case studies to blog articles and more.