ChaseGraphicThere have been almost 600 reported data breaches this year, a rise of over 25% over the same time period last year.  Most analysts expect that this number will only grow higher as consumers and business leaders become more dependent on internet based transactions.  With this in mind, the question becomes, “Are security breaches just part of doing online business,” and “Have users become desensitized to their existence?”

JP Morgan Chase was just one of the most recent companies to be hit with a major security breach.  Last week, JP Morgan Chase confirmed that 76 million households, along with 7 million small businesses, were impacted in a data breach in June and July.  Customers were told that their information was safe and that nothing of importance was taken, but that begs the question, what do you consider important?  In the same confirmation statement, JP Morgan Chase warned customers to be wary of phishing attempts following the breach, which would imply that at least some contacts information had been leaked.  While access to names, phone numbers and addresses on their own are not as damaging as account and social security numbers, they can still be used to harass and cause further damage.

Beyond the imminent danger imposed by security breaches, there is another concern that could impose a greater threat on the whole.  Security and data breaches have become common place, and as such, people have become complacent and generally fatigued in how they deal with them.  Unless a threat directly affects a person right now, it becomes easy to ignore it completely.  Without a vigilant consumer base, it also becomes easier for big businesses and financial services to relax their defenses and adopt a break fix model of security.  The recent data breaches at financial institutions have shown this fact with their eagerness to offer credit monitoring services to affected customers; the result being a cheap means to make customers feel safer without the need to directly intervene on the part of the banks.

Recent research by the Ponemon Institute suggests that most customers believe that data breaches are unavoidable and affect most businesses.  30% of consumers even claim to have ignored data breach notifications in the past and did nothing to address the security concerns even when the business advised them to take action.  Even among those who do take action, 71% admit they continued to do business with the company or continued to use their services, often under the assumption that security will only improve after the breach.

While security breaches may become common place, your reaction to them should not be so mundane.  Consumers are in the position to demand better protective services for their private information and businesses that want to remain competitive will need to rise to those demands.  If consumers fail to make these demands, then we will all end up living in a world where the price of online business is much too high.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Webmaster and Lead Designer