Erin O. Pressley
I’ll be honest. For many years, if someone said the
word “breach” my first thoughts were either of a
levee breaking or a feet-first birth. Not so anymore. For me, and perhaps most of us these days,
it’s more likely that the word conjures up images of
data security catastrophe.
As news of large-scale data breaches grows, so
does our familiarity with the word. Recent find-
ings from the Pew Research Center suggest that
had their on-
that 18% of online adults have had their Social
Security Number, credit card or bank account info
stolen. And 21% of online adults said they had an
email or social networking account compromised
or taken over without their permission.
At the time of this writing, the Heartbleed
security flaw is the latest in a long line of recent
news stories about the vulnerabilities of digital
data. The bug, which affects a common and widely used encryption technology that’s intended to
protect online data, went undetected for more
than two years. The flaw is estimated to affect up
to 66% of Internet sites but it’s unclear whether
or not hackers have been exploiting the opportunity during that time.
In December, Target announced that credit
and debit card information for 40 million of its
customers had been compromised (me included!).
Soon after, the retailer reported an even larger
share of its customers may have had personal
information such as email or mailing address-es stolen. This past January, Nieman Marcus
reported the theft of 1. 1 million credit and debit
cards by hackers.
Will it ever stop? In truth, probably not. Criminals will always be on the lookout for the next
scam and the Internet is a Wild West of potential
data crimes waiting to happen. But one way to
derail, or at minimum slow down, criminal activity is through the adoption of chip and PIN (see
page 26 of this issue).
Learn more about data security and how your
payment infrastructure can be strengthened and
criminals thwarted. Believe that bad things could
happen to you and your business. Get involved
with groups and organizations advocating for
better mechanisms for data security, namely
NACS and Conexxus (formerly know as PCATS,
see page 64 for more on that switch).
Let’s go back to thinking of a breach as something that occurs when water busts through a
levee and floods the land, rather than getting your
personal information — or worse for your business, your customers’ information — violated.
As news of
grows, so does
with the word.