Data Exposures, Data Breaches and Conducting Business in a Digital Age 

The digital era brings benefits, yet it also brings inherent security threats. Three billion accounts were compromised back in 2013, the largest hack to date. That number surfaced after years of investigation revealed the full weight of what the hackers accomplished – a colossal compromise of accounts and stolen information. 

In the eight years since, hackers have become even more creative, finding ways into the digital infrastructure of organizations, sometimes simply by use of a single weak password. 

Ransomware is now holding corporations hostage – pay or else – and attacks are being waged on a variety of organizations, from golf and ski resort company Boyne Resorts to oil company Colonial Pipeline. 

Nearly 156 million people were impacted by data exposures  – defined as the “accidental revelation of sensitive information due to less-than-adequate information security” – in 2020. This news comes with a wave of data breaches in the United States – 1001 cases, to be exact, causing Statista to say the cases have “skyrocketed” over the past decade.  

“While data breaches result from planned cyber-attacks on an organization’s database, data exposures are caused by human error such as weak internal cyber-security which results in record vulnerability,” per the article

“This is clearly a time to be cautious with transactions,” said Regan McGee, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nobul, a platform created to facilitate real estate transactions.

The sectors hit hardest are healthcare and business, with business taking the prize for the majority of exposed records since 2016, according to Statista. 

Cyber-attacks cost large companies with over 1,000 employees an average of $500,000 in 2020 and companies that had less than 1,000 employees paid around $133,000 per attack, according to the article

Aite Group’s research revealed that over 40% of Americans suffered some form of financial identity theft in 2020 which cost an estimated $$712.4 billion – a number that increased 42% from the previous year. 

“The group explains that the huge increase was fueled by the high rate of unemployment identity theft during the pandemic, as increased and extended unemployment benefits made the sector an attractive target for fraudsters,” according to an Insurance Information Institute article

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains the Consumer Sentinel Network – an organization that tracks consumer fraud and identity theft complaints filed with local, state and federal agencies and private organizations. In 2020, there were 4.8 million identity theft and fraud reports received by the FTC, a notable increase from the 3.3 million reports in 2019. The increase is mostly attributed to the 113% increase in identity theft complaints, per the article

In light of all that is happening with regard to security in the digital world, some consumers are shifting their approach – and aggressively seeking to work with companies who respect their privacy and data protection. 

According to a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, Cisco conducted a survey of 2,601 respondents that examined not just their attitudes, but also their actions, toward data privacy. 

A new group of people surfaced: “32% of respondents – who said they care about privacy, are willing to act, and have done so by switching companies or providers over data or data-sharing policies,” according to the article. “To the best of your knowledge, this is the first time such a group has been identified.” 

 Now called “privacy actives” HBR says that the significant number of them should get the attention of all companies. 

“As consumers become leery of sharing information, I think the Nobul platform will become even more important. We facilitate positive interactions between agents and prospective homebuyers and sellers, with transparency and all while protecting privacy,” Regan McGee added. “It’s important to provide such an option for such a huge step in peoples’ lives.” 

He noted that consumers have increasingly complex thoughts and feelings toward privacy and it is an important factor for businesses to consider.