What’s the Worst Case Scenario if You Fail to Protect Your Customer’s Data?



There’s a good reason that New York is widely described as ‘the city that never sleeps.’ It’s a worldwide financial hub; an omnipresent treasure trove of anything that generates money; an Aladdin’s cave of business; a colossal juggernaut of anything and everything economic. You get the picture.

All the different industries, companies and services needed to maintain this reputation grind relentlessly on day and night. And what’s the fuel driving this feverish fiscal powerhouse? Data. It’s everywhere; from retail outlets, educational establishments and financial institutions to marketing agencies, media companies and supermarkets – they all have data on you. Obtaining, maintaining and – above all – keeping this data secure is of paramount importance to practically every company that operates in our city.

This is why an increasing number of businesses and institutions in New York, the latest being the State University of New York, have taken the decision to become compliant with PCI DSS requirements. Set up in 2004 by Visa, MasterCard, Discover Financial Services, JCB International and American Express, PCI DSS is a compliance scheme that “aims to secure credit and debit card transactions against data theft and fraud” according to online security experts Incapsula. There is no legal requirement to join the scheme. However, it is a requirement for any company that processes credit and debit card payments. Plus, as Incapsula points out, it’s considered the best way to “safeguard sensitive data and information.”

We all know that keeping data as safe as possible is of paramount importance if a company wants to maintain a fruitful and trusting relationship with their customers. In fact, the implications of not looking after data in the proper manner can be far-reaching and calamitous. They often transcend the, already serious, consequences like tainting a good reputation or  taking a financial hit. Research commissioned by IBM’s security department indicates that the average cost of a security breach is $3.79 million.

Look at the infamous Ashley Madison (the website that people used to facilitate having an affair) hack last year and the raft of negative consequences that were subsequently observed. Let’s have a look at some of the implications when a group of underground hackers calling themselves ‘The Impact Team’ leaked the details of over 36 million users of the site: i) The company’s reputation was in tatters after the hackers gave an interview to VICE magazine revealing that the dating site hadn’t bothered to secure their data. ii) Ashley Madison are now defending multiple class-action lawsuits, totaling over $1 billion. iii) Countless marriages were ripped apart and many divorces were finalized as the result of the hack. iv) At least two suicides have been linked to the incident, according to the BBC.

Another example of the implication of failing to keep your customer’s data secure was recently observed with the widespread coverage of what’s been described as ‘the biggest hack in history.’ Search engine giant Yahoo! admitted that a couple of years ago a breach resulted in 500 million users having their data compromised. That’s disastrous to their reputation and is made even worse by the fact that they only found out about the incident a couple of weeks ago. Apart from now facing class-action lawsuits for their gross negligence, which allegedly caused an “intrusion into personal financial matters,” a $4.8 billion takeover by US telecommunication giant Verizon is now being reconsidered.

Given the level of these implications, it’s certainly unsurprising just how seriously most businesses now take cybersecurity.




Image credit: CC by American Advisors Group

About the author: AlleyVoice

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