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data breach definition

What is a Data Breach? Learn the Facts Relevant to Your Business

Ray Moorman

A data breach can negatively affect all parts of your business. New technologies that enable shoppers to pay with a swipe of their credit cards or a tap of their smartphones make purchasing items incredibly convenient. However, with this convenience also comes the unfortunate risk of card data criminals accessing sensitive financial information.

If you're a merchant, you must get educated about data breaches and the potential threats they pose to your business.

What exactly is a data breach?
By definition, a data breach is an event where someone or something views, accesses or retrieves sensitive data without authorization. These security issues may lead to the unauthorized person publishing or sending the private information to others. Breaches can occur if a hacker gains access to your system or even if someone you employ accidentally views materials he or she isn't authorized to see.

The information fraudsters and hackers may access can run the gamut from payment card and Social Security numbers to health results and passport information. (1) That said, retailers must safeguard themselves and point of sale technology from data breaches. Ensuring they use a credit card processing company that is PCI compliant is just the first step. Businesses must also consider switching their registers over to EMV-chip enabled readers since credit and debit cards featuring these computer chips make it harder for thieves to copy them as opposed to the magnetic stripe on older cards. (2)

How a breach can affect you
Any type of institution, from governments and nonprofits to banks and retail stores, is vulnerable to a data breach. In fact, some of the most recent and notable incidents occurred when retail giants like Target and Home Depot found that someone gained unauthorized access to their systems. Target, the second-largest retailer in the country, is still feeling the negative effects of the breach even though it occurred in 2013. The chain store paid out $67 million to Visa card issuers alone as a result. (3) 

Not only must retailers be wary of the expense a data breach can pose, they also must understand the potential business and brand reputation hit they can take. Whether the unauthorized access occurs due to human error or because of malicious fraudsters, customers will be less likely to patronize your establishment if they know a data breach previously occurred. 

A recent study from Forbes Insight found 46 percent of organizations in the U.S. that experienced a cyber-security data breach took a hit to their reputations. (4) Meanwhile, 19 percent of institutions that experienced a data breach due to a third-party system or their own IT failing suffered as a consequence. 

Data breaches can have a grave affect not only on your bottom line but also on customer trust. Find the data breach protection your business and customers deserve.

  1. http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/data-breach
  2. http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/emv-faq-chip-cards-answers-1264.php
  3. http://www.wsj.com/articles/target-reaches-settlement-with-visa-over-2013-data-breach-1439912013
  4. http://www-935.ibm.com/services/multimedia/RLL12363USEN_2014_Forbes_Insights.pdf
  5. https://corporate.target.com/press/corporate

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