When it comes to protecting personal information, consumers have become understandably apprehensive. The 2013 Target data breach was eye-opening for many Americans after making major headlines and leaving 40 million customers wondering if their financial information had been compromised. Adding to that concern, the 2014 Internet Security Threat Report revealed that targeted attacks increased 91 percent in 2013 and 552 million identities were exposed. That's a staggering increase in cybercrimes that signifies a major shift in how people behave and share information on the Internet. Data leaks are becoming so common that the average corporate breach costs a company $3.5 million, according to a Ponemon Institute study released in May. However, businesses can take steps to protect their consumers and consumers can take steps to protect themselves.
Heartbleed Bug Opened Eyes
Earlier this year, the Heartbleed bug became a household name and raised the ire of average Internet users who might not be IT-sophisticated enough to stop it themselves. The Heartbleed bug is really a programming flaw that exploits the openness of the Internet. It’s framed around free or loosely managed security software, giving hackers access to passwords, which they reproduce elsewhere for access to your personal accounts. Consider Heartbleed as a peephole into personal information online.
It is believed, SC Magazine reports, that Heartbleed left UK parenting website Mumsnet and the Canada Revenue Agency website vulnerable, allowing 1.5 million social security numbers and 900 social insurance numbers to be accessed. Heartbleed reveals data that the average online consumer expects will be protected from public view. Essentially, Heartbleed forces computers to reveal information stored in memory. It breaches encryption. Consider the havoc a data breach could wreck on your business. Even a basic infiltration by hackers could sully your company's name and leave you scrambling to provide answers to worried consumers.
Security is First Priority
Chief information officers have learned that it’s essential to separate serious security alerts from those that are a “dime a dozen,” according to CIO.com. With the proper data-protection infrastructure, companies can look for warning signs that credit card information is vulnerable to hackers. But taking action on valid threats is something else. It’s important for businesses to get beyond that uncertainty. In the aforementioned article, CIO.com recommends that companies “develop a rubric by which a weight is assigned to alerts about security vulnerabilities and attempted penetration.” Consumers can also take steps to protect themselves. Identity theft prevention companies provide fraud protection services for consumers who worry about the safety and security of personal information online. It's not enough to send your credit card or other personal information into cyberspace and to just assume that it's protected from hackers. Taking the time to secure a backup adds an additional layer of security. Nowadays, that's so important. Internet transactions are not going away, and neither are hackers.
Do you have any profesional lessons learned form data breaches?