WHAT OTHERS SAY: Consumers, companies need to take data breaches seriously

Thursday, May 29, 2014 | 1:43 p.m. CDT; updated 3:51 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 29, 2014

It takes more than remembering the model of your first car or your mother’s maiden name to keep your finances safe, let alone your personal information.

Data breaches have put consumers on alert that it takes daily vigilance to protect their wallets from thieves. Beyond that, corporations owe their customers honest answers and better security in response to these crimes.

High-profile cyber crimes have roiled major retailers in recent years, including T.J. Maxx and Target. And recently, eBay, the original powerhouse in online trade, suffered a massive attack in which the information of 145 million users was compromised.

At least three states and the European Union are investigating the matter. Meanwhile, eBay users have reason to question the company’s response.

The public was not notified about the breach of eBay’s systems until days after it was detected. Then, users were told to change their passwords only after they accessed the site; most have not received direct notification from eBay.

A more appropriate response was demonstrated by iTickets, the online site utilized for the St. Joseph Mayor’s National Day of Prayer Breakfast on May 1. When the site was attacked and credit card numbers stolen — including those of some local residents — users were e-mailed within hours.

The challenge for consumers and corporations alike is that cyber hackers are a faceless threat. In the case of the data breach at St. Jo Frontier Casino, for instance, bank card information of customers was stolen through an “unauthorized intrusion” into the data system.

No doubt it is more difficult to identify and track down these criminals than those who enter a bank and demand cash at gunpoint. Still, we have little choice but to meet this threat with superior countermeasures, including accelerated deployment of credit and debit cards equipped with microchips that are much more difficult to compromise than those with magnetic strips.

Given the high-tech way in which the world operates now, protecting data is a business necessity and a matter of safety and security for every consumer. This understanding should drive everything.

Copyright St. Joseph News-Press. Reprinted by permission.

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