The Week in Breaches: Safety Quiz, Expert Advice, Company Liability

Breaches and hacks have once again filled the “electronic transaction” news cycle this past week, as they too far too many weeks, frankly.

But alas, security is a problem that doesn’t seem to go away, so we admonish you — both as a consumer, and business owner– to make your rounds as safe and secure as possible, for both you and your customers.

For one thing, future breaches may become more expensive for businesses. As Fortune.com has just reported, “the influential 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last week reinstated a lawsuit against Neiman Marcus over a 2013 data breach in which hackers stole credit card information from as many as 350,000 customers.”

This is described as a “big deal” because “it lowers the bar for consumers who want to sue over such breaches. Until now, companies have been able to deflect many such lawsuits,” though the actual effect, according to the analysis, may not mean that “breached” customers will automatically be winning millions in damages, since “lawyers are typically the only ones who make money in a class action case. But the ruling will help consumers by giving companies yet another incentive to tune up their data security.”

Which will be good, since so much of that data is still so insecure. Around the time that Fortune was reporting on the court ruling, the NY Times was running a quiz that asked “How Many Times Has Your Personal Information Been Exposed to Hackers?”

We took it, and found that by virtue of having gone to Target and used a card once during its “breach” period, as well as having older Twitter and eBay accounts (where passwords may have subsequently been compromised), we had been more “exposed” than we reckoned. The good news is that we’ve since changed that card, and those passwords, but a previous address may still have been accessible.

Taking the quiz has a salutary effect, since it will help you understand how much (of your) information is already out there, in addition to how widespread a concern it is for businesses, with the roll-call of “official statements” linked in the Times piece, relating to each breach.How the Experts Protect Themselves Online (Compared to Everyone Else)

To get a head-start on protecting yourself, you might want to check out the chart run by the Lifehacker website (note: Not a website devoted to “hacking,” in the breaching sense, but rather, “hacks” and shortcuts, to make your life easier), on how “experts” protect themselves online, versus average users.

Among the the tips? Keep current with updates, and use distinct (and strong) passwords that are separate for each website you visit.

If that sounds familiar, those are some of the things we’ve been telling you here at AVPS, both on this blog, and in our newsletter. We will continue to gently admonish, and to remind you that any kind of upgrade — whether for security, new payment platforms, mobile processing, or anything else — is but a phone call away, when you contact your AVPS Rep.

We will see you in August! (Which we hope will not mean: Once more unto the breach!)

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