You would think that as time goes on and technology progresses, data breaches would become less and less common. Instead, it seems like we’ve heard more about data hacks in the last five years than the entire decade previously. We’re hearing more and more about massive data hacks, like Yahoo!’s recent reveal that they had more than one billion accounts breached in August 2013.
The time between now and the data hack is approaching about three-and-a-half years, so imagine the time it may take to learn about other massive hacks that occur in major companies. Some hacks, though, are pretty much in line with the times. For instance, we’re still looking into Russia’s potential breach of the United States’ cyber systems in relation to our last presidential election.
Hacks are happening all the time, whether we know about them or not. What’s done is done, but that doesn’t mean that what has happened in the past can’t shape how we handle data collectively as a society in the future.
Data Hacks in a Consumer World
While it’s obvious our national security and private information are very important to us, let’s take things down to a more specific level. Not only are the big guys getting breached, retail stores aren’t without their own hacking incidents. In December 2013, about 110 million customers were affected by a hack that stole massive amounts of customer credit and debit card data.
The reason that consumer level hacking is so important to the layman is because this is we can collectively hit companies where it hurts. As a people, it can be hard to stand up to governments and mega corporations that we may or may not use, but consumer-focused businesses have a very vested interest in keeping customers happy.
How we change this trend of data hacking is we take a stand. It’s not that these hacks are completely out of the control of these companies — no, a study done by InternetSociety.org found that over 90% of all data breaches examined could have been prevented. In these instances, the voice of the consumer must be heard, and it must say “do your due diligence.”
General Data Breach Ideals
Right now, companies who are hacked don’t necessarily have to pay back what is lost from the breach. There are significant costs involved with a data breach and the company that is breached is usually liable for them, but many also include in their terms and conditions that they aren’t completely liable for these instances. In some cases, the reason is because it’s hard to prove. If your email is hacked, can you immediately blame your password manager, or is it because you chose a password that didn’t have the right amount of strength?
These loopholes allow companies to go without paying for the full damages, though the good ones usually do. Target paid back around $10 million to hacking victims, which is definitely good on them. It’s also a great example of the constraints needed to fix this problem.
In order to get more companies up to date with the latest standards in data security, there has to be some sort of punishment standard to make them comply. Either a regulation or a smaller loophole can do the trick. Simultaneously, there should also be an incentive. We at Rewind have proven that security is something of a selling point, and a consumer base should reward companies that do make security a big issue in order to create a better security standard across the board.
We’re likely to see more breaches in the future, as well as new of past breaches that are finally coming to light. However, we have the means to voice our dissent. Let’s ask more companies to change their security standards so all of our data is safer.