6 Tips for Protecting Consumer Data

canstockphoto24638442How many data breaches occurred in the United States in 2014?

  1. 153
  2. 497
  3. 612
  4. 783
  5. Way too many

If you answered D or E, you were correct. According to the Identity Theft Research Center, the number of data breaches increased nearly 28% last year, and that was after an 18% increase in 2013. To put a further perspective on it, more than 675 million data records, according to ITRC estimates, were compromised last year.

In other words, data insecurity is nothing short of an epidemic in the US.

Which is why, as hackers and identity thieves become more aggressive, lenders must find new ways to protect consumer data. To that end, we’ve assembled six key ideas for bolstering your company’s security protocol. Will they resolve the epidemic? No, but they will help:

  • Raise the level of security awareness for employees. “Information security is not an IT problem, it’s everyone’s problem,” said Boulton Fernando, chief security officer for Toyota Financial Services. “When you raise the level of awareness in an organization, everyone becomes a defender of that organization.”
  • Track and monitor third-party lenders that have access to customer data. With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau keenly focused on vendor management, lenders must develop a thorough and consistent audit structure.
  • Assess the holes in your technology to see where you’re weak, then work to plug those holes. Hackers are determined, and sometimes even encrypted data gets breached.
  • Simulate a data breach in a controlled environment to develop a step-by-step plan of action.
  • Assemble a team ― in advance ― to manage through a potential breach. Ink agreements with an identity-theft company, call center, and public relations firm to use should the need arise. “You get better teams and pricing if you retain companies who can help you before a crisis happens,” said Kirstin Matthews, a partner in the privacy and data security group at Proskauer Rose LLP.
  • Don’t be afraid of compliance. The rewards of beefing up your security efforts will outweigh the risk of falling short.

For more information on information security, try the Identity Theft Resource Center, Bankinfosecurity.com, and Krebs on Security

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