Protecting Your Customers’ Data: Cybersecurity in the Consumer Industry
yberattacks resulting in stolen data or damaged reputations seem to be happening more frequently each year. In a progressively digital world where cyberattacks grow more and more sophisticated and increasingly dangerous every day, consumers are more concerned than ever about cybersecurity and privacy risks.
No matter the industry, cybersecurity has taken on vital importance in recent years as hackers and bad actors seek to steal personal and financial information, intellectual property and other sensitive data. While many industries are significantly impacted by the digital shift, advances in technology have put the consumer industry behind the eight ball as well.
Compounding the issue, new privacy regulations and the proliferation of devices such as Alexa, Google Home and Siri signal that the consumer data collection industry is about to explode. During this period of digital transformation, businesses that have direct contact with consumers and consumer data, including retailers, restaurants and consumer product companies, must take the proper precautions to mitigate cyber risk.
Because the consumer industry is often the transaction conduit for purchases, security for consumer-facing companies has taken on a role of increased importance in order to keep personally identifiable information (PII) protected from identity theft. Unfortunately, the industry faces a number of factors that make mitigating cyber risks a significant challenge.
Today, companies in consumer sectors are constantly on the search for ways to identify trends and capitalize on growth in emerging markets. These brands are constantly looking for opportunities to acquire or partner with other companies to enable access to consumers, leverage market solutions and sometimes, access sources of raw data.
Additionally, consumer products companies are aligning technological advances in creative and efficient ways to optimize customer engagement and influence a consumers’ path to purchase. Emerging technologies often serve as an attractive avenue of opportunity for cybercriminals seeking to exploit weaknesses in an organization’s digital ecosystem.
Unfortunately, the ongoing search for market trends and emerging markets coupled with the increased adoption of digital technologies tends to open the door for hackers and bad actors seeking to cause damage.
Consumer goods companies face cyber threats from any number of bad actors. Cybercriminals aiming to pilfer financial and other customer data that can be monetized as well as advanced persistent threat (APT) actors seeking to support domestic businesses by providing innovative technological advances or an edge over their competition. APT actors might work to develop an understanding of supply chains, manufacturing processes and programmatic business details so that they can exactly reproduce these processes or identify vulnerabilities.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals and APT groups working in association with a nation-state government will assuredly continue to target companies in the consumer goods industry. Threats such as credit card fraud and identity theft are unfortunately becoming all too common in today’s marketplace, and they can be remarkably damaging to customer trust and brand reputation. Worse yet, other risks appear to be climbing, leaving many businesses (and their customers) in a tough spot. 2017 was a big year for cybercriminals taking advantage of security holes in corporate networks and downloading a significant amount of personally identifiable information about consumers, and there’s no sign that these attacks will be slowing down any time soon.
According to findings from the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study, data breaches continue to be costlier and result in more consumer records being lost or stolen, year after year. In fact, the consumer industry checked in at number 10 ($140/record) in the study’s list detailing the top industry sectors by per capita cost of a breach.
Despite growing awareness surrounding the need for cybersecurity, countless consumers are still not taking the necessary steps to ensure their personal information is safe from identity theft. Today, it is more important than ever for consumers to take the necessary preventative measures in order to help protect their online identity and digital lives. However, it is just as critical that consumer industry companies understand and appropriately respond to their customers’ concerns about cybersecurity.
In a world where 69 percent of consumers believe companies are vulnerable to hacks and cyberattacks but only 25 percent believe most companies handle their sensitive personal data responsibly, something’s got to give. Consumer mistrust represents an opportunity for businesses in the sector to address this issue, creating a competitive advantage by being more transparent with where and how they collect customer data, what they do with it and how they protect the data. Investing in cybersecurity capabilities could allow consumer businesses to increase their chance of regaining this trust and enhancing their brand.
Unfortunately, many companies in the consumer industry struggle with patch management. A recent report titled “A Growing Risk Ignored: Critical Updates” found that over 2,000 organizations run more than 50 percent of their computers on outdated versions of an operating system, making them almost three times as likely to experience a publicly disclosed breach.
Due to insecure programming practices, many common weaknesses are easy to find and relatively simple for hackers and bad actors to exploit. The lack of system patching is still a large source of these vulnerabilities, and poor patch management opens the door for breaches ranging from ransomware to data disclosure attacks.
Today, effective patch management is the only way companies can fully prevent attacks based on known vulnerabilities. By taking inventory of vulnerability response capabilities, defining and optimizing end-to-end vulnerability response processes and automating as much as possible, Automox appears as an ideal patch management solution in today’s threat landscape.
Facing growing threats and a rapidly expanding attack surface, understaffed and alert-fatigued organizations need more efficient ways to eliminate their exposure to vulnerabilities. Automox is a modern cyber hygiene platform that closes the aperture of attack by more than 80% with just half the effort of traditional solutions.
Cloud-native and globally available, Automox enforces OS & third-party patch management, security configurations, and custom scripting across Windows, Mac, and Linux from a single intuitive console. IT and SecOps can quickly gain control and share visibility of on-prem, remote and virtual endpoints without the need to deploy costly infrastructure.
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