The importance of protecting personal information

Many Australian consumers reported not feeling concerned about the personal information they provided to websites.

Identity theft has been an area of great concern among consumers for years. With more people shopping online and joining social media sites that require them to share personal information, the potential for hackers to access and leverage this data for financial gain has never been greater. It is crucial that consumers adhere to a cybersecurity plan that includes the use of application control and system restore technology.

The ease and convenience of online purchases has created a rapidly-expanding global e-commerce market. However, each time consumers offer up their credit card information, they are placing their financial security in peril. Hackers can access transactions as they are happening to steal cardholder data and make illegal charges with their information. Many businesses now offer the ability to store payment records so returning customers can quickly make purchases without needing to re-enter card  numbers and billing addresses. These services provide a much more effortless online shopping experience, but they also create vulnerabilities: Cybercriminals can infiltrate company databases and steal that information.

Frequency and cost of data theft on the rise
These incidents have been occurring with greater frequency in recent years. From 2005 to 2010, credit card data theft increased 50 percent. Although the threat of personal identity and payment record theft present major concerns for consumers, businesses are just as vulnerable. Enterprises that house customer credit card information lose between $150 and $250 for each card number that is stolen. Businesses face a number of expenses in the aftermath of these types of security breaches: the cost of malware removal, additional time spent by personnel to notify victims of the attack and possible legal settlements if companies are found culpable of negligent security practices.

Consumers unaware of the potential danger
Considering the high cost of payment and identity information theft as well as the increasing frequency of breaches, one would imagine that individuals and businesses were taking great pains to secure this data. However, a recent study suggested that this was not the case. A survey of 1,000 Australians found that 55 percent of the participants could not say how many websites had access to their personal information. Furthermore, 67 percent of respondents reported that they weren't concerned about handing over their personal information to online sources. In addition, only 27 percent of social networking users said they were aware that they were sharing personal information when they accessed those sites.

Interestingly, despite all the evidence to the contrary, 75 percent of survey participants reported feeling concerned about the amount of information they shared online. To protect personal data and prevent cybercriminals from leveraging it for financial gain, consumers and businesses should leverage a broad range of cybersecurity measures. Application control services can prevent unknown malicious programs and zero day viruses from launching on a system. In addition, system restore measures can be used to return an infected computer to its previous state by resetting the machine's configurations.

Kate Beckham

Kate has been lighting up the blogosphere for over 5 years, with a keen interest in social media and new malware threats. When not sitting at a café behind her Mac, you’ll usually find her scouring the racks for vintage finds or playing guitar.