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Posted By ECT News Network on 02/06/2019 in Security

Online Retailers Must Combat Biometric Hacking and Skimming Crimes

Online Retailers Must Combat Biometric Hacking and Skimming Crimes

By Michael Bruemmer 

The new year is in full swing and online retailers should expect that cyber threats are, too. Data breaches have become more sophisticated and personalized in the last year as phishing scams and malware installations have become more prevalent.

Although the Identity Theft Resource Center noted that the total number of reported data breaches decreased in 2018, their impact remains significant. In fact, the number of exposed records that contained personally identifiable information has increased 126%.

According to Experian data, businesses have reported an increase in online fraud-related losses over the past 12 months, predominantly in account origination and account takeover attacks. The company issued our top data breach industry predictions for 2019, and e-commerce professionals should pay particularly close attention to biometric hacking and skimming.

Biometrics Aren't Immune

Biometrics have become increasingly popular for online retailers and financial institutions as added layers of security to authenticate consumers and protect from fraudulent activity. While biometrics have proven to be effective security measures, they are unfortunately not completely immune to hacks. Sensors can be manipulated and spoofed or they can deteriorate over time as a result of too much use.

The reality is, hackers will take this on as their next challenge. This doesn’t mean retailers should shy away from incorporating biometrics, though. Many businesses are still using passwords because they are a widely understood method of security among consumers, but using passwords alone has faults, too.

A 2018 Global Fraud and Identity Report from Experian shows that a majority of Internet users consistently use a small set of usernames and passwords to secure multiple different accounts, which poses a greater risk that fraudsters could take over multiple accounts. Businesses can help mitigate these chances by ensuring that their biometric systems are secure and biometric data is encrypted in secure servers.

Skimming: A Powerful Attack Method

While skimming isn’t a new breach method, there is no question that it’s potent. Criminals have historically targeted ATMs to retrieve personal information stored on cards and the PIN numbers that access their accounts.

These days, skimmers are going after entire bank networks by either directly loading malware into the ATMs or using social engineering tactics to download malware into the computer systems that can infect the networks that operate ATMs.

Even worse, they can blend into a business’ infrastructure and easily avoid getting caught, which makes it difficult for businesses to detect an attack. We should expect to see an enterprise-wide attack this year.

Online skimming will continue to be an issue for e-commerce sites, too, because of the difficulty of tracing an attack, the ease of retrieving information in bulk, and the ability to sell this information on the dark web.

The best way organizations can combat skimming is by monitoring their networks for inconsistencies in purchase behavior, such as the number of transactions from a consumer and the time of day these transactions take place.

Protect Your Business and Your Customers

Most organizations say they have a data breach response plan in place, but now is the time to double-check that plans are cogent and that all appointed members on the response teams, including C-Suite, IT professionals, communications, and external agencies, are aligned.

E-commerce industry professionals need to keep their guard up against online related attacks like biometrics and skimming, and businesses need to make sure they are fully prepared to minimize the impact of an incident.

By investing more time and resources in data breach resolution, businesses not only are better protecting themselves, but also are strengthening the loyalty of their customers in the long run by protecting them too.

About the Author
Michael Bruemmer is vice president of Data Breach Resolution at Experian, which helps businesses mitigate consumer risk following data breach incidents.

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