Since the dawn of the Internet age, data security has been a hotly debated issue. While hackers have long posed an existential threat to financial institutions, very real risks to power grids, national secrets and corporate intellectual property have often been overlooked.
In 2016, the US saw the consequences of this disengagement with the hacking of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and Russia’s interference in the presidential election.
While security vulnerabilities in the restaurant industry and the Internet of Things experienced unprecedented hacks in 2016, previously besieged industries like healthcare showed signs of stabilization due to increased security measures.
As the year comes to a close, here’s a run-down of the biggest data security stories of 2016, and what they will mean for the New Year.
Russia and the DNC Hack
In July, WikiLeaks published a treasure-trove of nearly 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee, including leaked emails from seven key DNC staff members. The breach resulted in several resignations and a summer’s worth of bad press and increased scrutiny for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In early December 2016, 17 intelligence agencies concluded with “high confidence” that Russia hacked the DNC to help Trump win the election.
While governments have long stolen secrets from each other, this unprecedented, high-profile interference will likely cause the US and governments around the world, as well as high-profile organizations like the DNC, to get serious about election security, infrastructure security and protecting their most sensitive data.
Breaches Take a Bite Out of Wendy’s
Though first reported at 300 restaurants in January 2016, by summer it became clear that Wendy’s had sustained a major hack impacting at least 1,025 franchises. The company had been infiltrated by POS malware, and just as previous mega breaches at Target and Home Depot helped sound the alarm for security upgrades for retailers, in 2017 the Wendy’s breach will likely enact sweeping new security measures for the previously overlooked restaurant sector.
Healthcare Achieves Security Reform
In 2015, no other data breach was as massive as the Anthem database hack that compromised the health and financial information of nearly 80 million Americans. On the bright side, healthcare breaches were down in 2016, and the biggest breach was an oncology practice with 2.2 million patients.
This change is a sign that healthcare companies are starting to take security as seriously as financial institutions do. Going forward, expect a continued downward trend in hacks as more and more healthcare businesses take steps to secure their networks and their patient data.
Threats to the Internet of Things
On Oct. 21st, the world saw just how fragile the internet really is when some of the world’s biggest websites — PayPal, Netflix, Twitter and The New York Times — were unreachable for the better part of a day. The attack was facilitated by a botnet that used millions of hacked routers, DVRs and cameras (Internet of Things devices) to send denial of service attacks to a single DNS server company that acts as one of the internet’s giant switchboards.
This unprecedented attack on the heart of the internet will cause security experts to take a greater look at how the internet is structured and how it can be hacked by rogue states and criminals. The attack will also encourage companies to diversify their DNS providers and increase security measures on Internet of Things devices.
Retailers and the Rise of EMV
With complex and dynamic chip technology, EMV cards are replacing magnetic strip technology, making card cloning virtually impossible.
New this year, however, are online schemes where EMV chip cards provide no added protection. Retailers have experienced an uptick in fraudulent online purchases that involve quick in-store pick-ups or same-day shipping. In 2017 expect fraudsters to find new ways to game the system, as retailers struggle to patch any vulnerabilities.
Yahoo’s Big Breach and Two-Step Security
In December of 2016, Yahoo announced that it had experienced a breach of over one billion accounts — the largest data breach in history. This startling information came just months after the company announced a separate breach affecting more than 500 million customers. While these kinds of hacks are nothing new, the breach highlights the importance of two-step verification, which requires that a one-time code be entered anytime you sign on from a new device. As 2016 comes to a close, expect two-factor authentication to become the norm and not the exception for accounts of all types — ranging from personal to corporate.
Secure Your Data in 2017
In this brave new world of data security, where breaches make the headlines nearly everyday, you can take concrete steps to protect your business and your customers from data theft by using P2PE encryption solutions offered by Bluefin. These services encrypt consumer data from the moment a card is swiped to the moment it reaches its payment destination. To find out more about how state-of-the-art encryption services can keep you and your customers safe in the new year, contact a Bluefin representative today.