With e-commerce taking up an increasing amount of business owners' collective bandwidth, their investments and energies have paid off - reaping the marketing and sales benefits by tapping into consumers' love of convenience. However, these investments haven't been without their land mines, as identity thieves seek to exploit user data.
Businesses are redoubling their efforts to thwart cyberattackers by calling in the recruits to stymie breach attempts.
"Consumer breaches rose 23% from 2017."
Although technology is rapidly improving and there's greater awareness of the ongoing assault on sensitive information, hackers are adapting and refining their strategies to expose confidential data. Last year was a classic example, as consumer breaches rose 23 percent from 2017, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. More specifically, there were 1,632 instances in which consumers' financial specifics were accessed. There was an even larger year-over-year increase - 127 percent - in the exposure of personally identifiable information.
Eva Velasquez, ITRC president and CEO, said that the growth of cloud computing and internet users is giving cybercriminals more opportunities to wreak havoc on consumers and the businesses that maintain databases.
"The increased exposure of sensitive consumer data is serious," Velasquez warned. "Never has there been more information out there putting consumers in harm's way."
What businesses are doing to fight back
The problem with IT incursions, beyond the fact that they lead to potentially lasting ramifications for the individuals affected and the organizations attacked, is that they're virtually impossible to avoid completely. As a result, businesses are providing their employees with tips on an ongoing basis about how they can be better stewards of data, whether that's by avoiding certain websites, making sure they download software updates and security patches or keeping an eye out for emails sent from odd-sounding domains.
At the same time, they're also seeking out assistance on how to combat data theft from third parties, polls show. A number of businesses, for instance, specialize in installing multi-factor authentication solutions. This is an entry system that requires users of a program or portal to use more than one means of identification technology to corroborate they are who they say they are. Whether through inputting alphanumeric codes or taking advantage of fingerprint or facial recognition technology, multifactor authentication has proven to be an effective counterattack.
Additionally, they're also going to greater lengths to shore up their IT management by hiring individuals who specialize in cybersecurity. These experts are especially adroit in recognizing red flags that are typical of phishing, spyware or other attempts fraudsters use to bilk employees into unwittingly revealing sensitive data.
Seek to improve compliance and transparency
These efforts provide customers and employees with a greater sense of comfort that their information is in good hands but also help them achieve compliance. Government entities are cracking down on companies that don't proactively monitor breach attempts and relaying them to the appropriate organizations should they occur. As noted by The Wall Street Journal, the Securities and Exchange Commission has distributed guidance that details what public companies must do to inform their customers and stakeholders should they be affected.
Bottom line: Data theft is a clear and present danger. But businesses are doing everything they can to address these threats, which have led to more job opportunities as a result.