Offshore Development Center Security Best Practices

Encora | April 10, 2023

Many businesses seeking agile and flexible operations are turning to offshore development centers (ODCs) for their software development. While this model offers many advantages, it’s imperative that companies thoroughly assess their potential ODC partner’s security. This article explores offshore development center security challenges and best practice solutions. 

Challenges in Offshore Development Center Security

Four primary sources lead to security risks at an ODC.  

1. People

The first point of security failure lands with the people working at the ODC. Look out for the following potential risks.


  1. Team members who did not receive proper background checks before being hired could pose a security risk.

  2. Team members who still need proper ODC security protocols training.

  3. Team members working on multiple projects simultaneously could lead to security risks.

  4. Improper security compliance that fails to ensure all team members are following security protocols. 


2. Processes

The next area of security risk occurs with the ODCs processes. An ODC with poor processes invites security risks. Here are some examples to look out for:


  1. No process frameworks or hierarchy.

  2. Lack of data and role classification.

  3. Poorly or undefined security standards.

  4. Lack of periodic audits.

  5. No compliance team to enforce or observe security standards.


3. Policies

For good security standards, the ODC and their client need clearly stated and observed security policies, which are crucial to keeping data secure and protecting IP. Here are some signs that an ODC lacks good policies or policy enforcement. 


  1. Poor operating standards.

  2. Unethical behavior or practices from anyone at the ODC.

  3. Failing to take proper action when alerted of an area of non-compliance or a security breach.

  4. Any unmonitored data exchange.

  5. Teams that lack the training they need.

4. Infrastructure

An ODCs infrastructure is crucial to maintaining good security. An ODC is only as effective as its ability to work with on-shore teams, and using distributed networks securely requires enterprise-level security. If an ODCs infrastructure is lacking, companies run the risk of:

  1. Poor physical security that leads to unauthorized access.

  2. Working with outdated firewalls, network security, and perimeter defenses.

  3. Exposing their clients to unauthorized access to their codes, databases, and IPs.

These factors must be considered secure before work with an ODC can safely commence. 

Enterprise IT Architecture

Ensure the ODCs enterprise IT architecture is secure and is classifying data according to its level of criticality and sensitivity:

  1. Critical
  2. Manageable
  3. Commodity

Using these classifications, the ODC uses effective controls for the most sensitive data and marks all critical data before sharing. 

Reviewing the ODC’s role classification system as well as their enterprise security standards:

  1. Reduces the risk of security breaches.
  2. Offers audit trails for future use. 

Pre-Assessment of ODC’s Site

Conducting a detailed pre-assessment of the ODC’s site is crucial for maintaining security.

  1. Review the ODC’s deployed security policies.

  2. Confirm their network security controls.

  3. Review their certifications for any relevant international security compliance standards.

  4. Ensure that a third-party audit (including a type 1 and 2 assessment) is performed.

  5. Perform a thorough onsite audit and risk assessment of the ODC.

Evaluation of ODC’s Audit and Assessment Protocols

Gaining a clear understanding of how and when a potential ODC partner performs audits and assessments will lend vital insight into any potential security risks. Ask these critical questions:

  1. Do they perform an annual audit and review of their security policies?
  2. How often do they conduct onsite reviews of sites? 

Include Security-Related Controls in the Agreement

An explicit agreement protects both parties, and it is essential when it comes to ODC cybersecurity. A good litmus test of an ODCs security level is how it responds to requests for legal agreements and requests such as:

  1. Individual background checks on the team that is deployed.
  2. Access to hiring information, or how transparent they are about their hiring process.
  3. Being able to provide a dedicated team to the specified project.
  4. Submitting to a formal security assessment.
  5. Signing non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
  6. Legally defining security breaches and assigning penalties, such as legal action or terminating the contract in the face of a security breach. 

Examine the ODC’s Security Culture

Ask these questions to assess an ODCs security culture.

  • Do they continually and rigorously strengthen their security team with ongoing education?
  • Do they often conduct formal assessments of their security measures at the center?
  • Have they adopted enterprise-level security measures for their data at the systems, servers, networks, and cloud levels?
  • Do they not just train but coach their team members regarding the ODC’s security protocols to maintain compliance with their security standards?

Learn More About Encora’s EDC Framework

Encora’s proprietary extended delivery center (EDC) framework has proved successful time and time again. With their EDC, extended teams are seamlessly integrated into existing teams, internal processes, and company culture. Encora’s experience and expertise give them the tools to craft the most secure systems in the industry. Security is ensured with Encora. Please reach out to Encora today with any questions or to get started!

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