There is no such thing as a free lunch, right? We all love cheap things, or in the best scenarios, the ones we can get for discounted prices or even for free! However, free products or services are myths. No company offers free items without asking for something in return because no one can afford that luxury.
This is especially true for the IT industry where you can find numerous free trials for various types of software, including customer support software. The free software subscriptions are quite luring as they represent a great deal when it comes to testing the product. A free trial is an exquisite opportunity for startups and anyone who wants to increase the number on their savings account.
With freemium plans, they avoid losing even a nickel if the software is not the right fit for their companies. Also, there is no longer a risk of a vendor lock-in and you can even play with the software code if you have web development skills.
However, there is a catch! These free-of-charge Open Source Software (OSS) solutions usually come with a very high price considering the way they affect your cybersecurity measures, brand identity, and overall business integrity! You may witness small gains in the short run; however, in the long run you can see more costs and less freedom of operations in the privacy sphere for your company and your jurisdiction.
In the era of high data privacy and protection awareness and increased cybercrime, you shouldn’t be giving your personal or company data away that easily. Moreover, personally identifiable information (PII) has become one of the priciest commodities on the planet. We live in the cyber age where information represents the strongest business asset and, in terms of business growth, customer information is the most valuable.
While managers aim to gain knowledge about customer preferences and personal details to provide better service, hackers want to profit on stealing customer PII and then selling it for large amounts of money on the dark web. While the business goal of service or product improvement is noble, the hackers’ goal certainly is not.
Companies understand that you may prefer a zero-risk, free option to test their software, or because you’re new and have been struggling with your startup growth. This is why they offer free trials in exchange for your data. Facebook based its business on the same logic, trading data of millions of its users who use the platform for free.
It’s a win-win solution because you can improve your service and thereby benefit all other customers. However, IT companies can’t offer you standard or premium features that enable the maximum protection of your data for free because their business will lose its sense, right? If you choose the free software plan, you may end up giving and losing your data easily. Data privacy is a huge disadvantage of free software, so this option should be the last one on your list.
You can observe free service as this: if you are not paying for a product, then YOU ARE the product. Have you ever wondered how Microsoft email or Instagram are free forever? Well, they share data on your preferences with multiple companies that use it for marketing purposes.
Skype’s base product is so good that only a small percentage of people decide to upgrade its service for more secure features. However, this may be another reason for companies to provide free trials: they expect that after some time, as your business grows or you see for yourself how great their product is, you will upgrade your subscription package and become a loyal long-term customer.
Thus, if you need free software at the moment, make sure to subscribe to short-term trials with a short-term data exchange and avoid the massive risk of your data falling into the wrong hands. However, the best advice would be not to choose such packages and avoid any security risk in this area. A better alternative would be to try to save money on something else because bad security measures cost a business the most!
2. Which data compliance types can be compromised?
Due to the data sharing option, with free software you don’t have any control over your data. This practice makes data compliance relevant to your business operations area or industry practically impossible.
The current data laws that your business may be subject to are:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Every business that collects data of EU subjects must comply with the GDPR.
- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): As of 1st January 2020, every Californian has a right to data privacy and protection under the CCPA.
- Consumer Privacy Rights Act (CPRA): Last year, California rolled out another, more strict data privacy and protection law called the CPRA.
- Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGDP): This Brazilian data law closely resembles the GDPR and has the same goal to protect the data of Brazilian consumers.
- Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA): Canada enacted the PIPEDA to protect data of its residents and citizens that’s used for business and marketing purposes.
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): Under FERPA, every U.S. student (or guardian) has the right to control the disclosure of student personal information.
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA): Financial information is the most sensitive PII out there, which is why US lawmakers created the GLBA to protect it.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Another highly soughtafter type of data among hackers is medical data or ePHI. The HIPAA is there to regulate its use.
- RCW 19.29A: The utility sector collects a massive amount of data on their consumers in order to control the grid and process monthly payments, which necessitated this law to protect it.
3. Customer data privacy awareness
The global data privacy and protection law trend coupled with a significant increase (236%) in cybercrime over the prior year have led to a significant increase in customer awareness regarding customer data rights and needs.
According to the research conducted by Mimecast, there has been a 26% increase in ransomware-based cyber attacks, with 88% of businesses experiencing email-based spoofing and 67% of companies reporting a rise in impersonation fraud. Thus, it is not a surprise that another study performed by CISCO confirmed that 84% of consumers want to have more control over their data. Make sure to give them what they need and eliminate this disadvantage of free software!
4. Shares server hosting
All free software or OSS solutions are hosted on a shared server. Here, you have millions of data users that live next to each other, making cybersecurity extremely hard to manage. The number of potential data breach entries is very high because it is hard to determine which of the many security doors a hacker may target! Even a paid SaaS software has security risks, but this security disadvantage is much bigger for free software!
5. Lack of features
If you want to avoid these large security risks that come with shared servers you can always choose an on-premise or private cloud helpdesk package. However, you will need to upgrade your subscription. For instance, with Helpy Pro you can become the one and only boss of your data. You can choose to install hardware and rely on your own server or take a private cloud residence on the most trusted servers such as Amazon and Microsoft Azure. In any case, your software vendor won’t know what data you collect, which makes the security risk quite minimal!
If you run a large business such as a global corporation that collects millions of personal records, a private cloud is a necessity! Considering that a stolen record costs $150 on average, you better have it. All Helpy paid packages are focused on privacy and security; however, some are more laser focused than others. For example, Helpy Essential offers advanced ticketing that restricts the use of customer data. Alternatively, Helpy Total offers team permissions. Credential stuffing is a big thing in cybersecurity walls as hackers often try to get your employees’ login details to gain foothold into your precious database.
However, if you restrict access to data among your employees, you will significantly reduce the chances for a data breach. Security features such as Adjusted Inactivity Time, Agent UI IP Whitelisting, and Access Manager can help you achieve exactly that!
Yes, you can always start with a free plan, but it is better that you know a little more about it now, right?