The Serious Consequences of Bad Data Security Practices

9 Mar

Online shopping and digital payment systems were already on an upward trend before COVID-19. The pandemic only served to catapult businesses into embracing digital business formats ahead of schedule and now, more than a year in, retailers and small business owners are reaching a broader audience through their online services.

As we begin to settle in to a new state of normal, online shopping continues to soar, as do bad security data practices. In the rush to go digital, many companies have not given due consideration to data security and what happens when the correct measures aren’t set in place to protect consumers.

With consumers turning to digital shopping for lifestyle and convenience, “cash is king” is no longer relevant. Even if COVID-19 had to disappear tomorrow, it’s doubtful that consumers would go back to the old way of shopping.

A look at the current digital business environment shows us that companies are now using cloud-based point-of-sale systems as well as online networks to share, store, and access important company information. With such an upward trend in online transactions, the inevitable is happening; cybercriminals are starting to take note and pay attention to them. Modern cyber crooks are finding new ways to take advantage of people and businesses online.

bad data security practices an incentive for cybercriminals

In 2017, the retail giant Target paid the biggest data breach settlement in history to opportunistic hackers who had gained access to the payment details of their 41+ million customers.

With corporates showing that they are willing to pay what it takes in order to get their data back, the bar is set much higher for cybercriminals giving them far more incentive to exploit the weaknesses in the design of payment systems.

avoiding bad data security practices

The fact that Target was forced to pay a ransom as a consequence of bad data security practices was a costly lesson to many. What needs to be done now is that companies should seriously consider what they can do to avoid being hacked in the first place so that they don’t have to resort to the same behaviour.

Business owners need to spend more time ensuring that they select the correct security software for their business.

Tighter digital security practices can go a long way towards deterring point-of-sale system hacks.

If your business processes credit card payment information online, then protecting your point-of-sale system should be your number one consideration. In fact, you shouldn’t process even one payment online until you are 100% certain that your security system is well suited to your business and that it is running optimally.

make end-to-end encryption a priority

Don’t overlook the importance of end-to-end encryption when data is exchanged between two points. When the data is encrypted from both sides of the transaction it remains private throughout the process, making it less attractive to possible hackers. Even law enforcement can’t view a person’s data when it is end-to-end encrypted.

make two-factor authentication mandatory

Nobody wants to force their customers into doing anything, but you might want to put a bit of pressure on them to activate and make use of two-factor authentication.

Educate your customers. Let them know that when they sign up for an online account that they can access via log-in information, two-factor authentication should be the norm. This means that a customer will have a second layer of defence and will be the first to know if someone has accessed (or is trying to access) their account.

take heed – protect your company data today

No business is too big or too small to be the victim of a data breach. Hackers don’t discriminate and they don’t take pity on any company they target.

The reputational damage that a business suffers after a data breach is far more damaging than the monetary loss. Pay attention to the warning signs and don’t wait until it’s too late. Install encrypted data backups and look into various other ways of installing safety systems to protect your customers – and your business.

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