Cyberattacks, ransomware attacks and more have taken businesses and people's personal information and turned it upside-down over the past few decades. While a great source for information sharing, the online world has also opened millions to the possibility of one day having private information or their identities stolen.
What was once safely tucked away in the filing cabinets of doctor's offices, bank vaults and personal diaries is now open for potential dispersal to the world.
Since the internet came into mainstream use in the 1990s, there have been myriad cyber infiltrations into sensitive data. In 2016 alone, U.S. businesses and organizations saw a 40 percent increase in data breaches, bringing its total to 1,093 reported incidents. As time goes on, technology will continue to develop — and hackers will be there every step along the way, looking for system weaknesses to expose details most people would rather be kept under wraps.
With hackers stealing from nearly anyone and everything online, it seems there isn't a safe place to hide. From Yahoo's 1 billion users impacted by stolen account data to Ashley Madison's 37 million users' details stolen and 400,000 of Italy's UniCredit customer data being breached, it seems that hackers will always find ways to get inside protected information.
As such, several companies over the years have popped up to help businesses, as well as consumers, secure valuable information at the base level. Just recently, BioCatch won a patent to help detect remote hacker tools with the hopes of catching breaches before they occur.
Although data breaches have seen a decline from 22 percent down to 19 percent, according to Thales e-Security and 451 Research's 2017 Thales Data Threat Report, an overwhelming 88 percent of senior security executives still feel vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Consumers should probably go ahead and assume that at one point or another their personal details will likely be breached by an online hacker. With nearly every possible part of people's lives living online, and sometimes on an internal intranet as well, it's safe to assume that nothing is truly, well, safe. Beyond the usual advice of changing passwords upon hearing of data breaches, there's not much consumers can really do.
With all of this knowledge, the issue that then arises for retailers is how to bring consumers back to the path of purchasing — post-hacking occurrence.
Typical advice from top security officials can range from being careful with third-party vendors to giving consumers more control over their own data. Consumer insights company Diginomica's co-founder, Jon Reed, offered a succinct way for retailers to gain and maintain consumer trust.
"Don't take the stance that your data is unbreachable," he said. "Instead, tell customers [and/or] partners exactly where it is stored and link to those privacy policies as needed. People like to know where their data lives and how it is used. They can make informed choices from there."
As it stands now, retailers will likely need to not only have some form of security in place for private data but also conduct routine checks to ensure it is working properly. Ask different security experts, and there does not appear to be a one-size-fits-all approach to cybersecurity. As such, each business will need to conduct a thorough assessment of its security systems. There are companies available, like Coalfire, that help with these regular checks of security and aim to provide companies with suggested action steps.
Keeping assessments top-of-mind, consumer trust is something that will likely be built back up over much time, and after education has taken place.