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Ecommerce is the new frontier for threats to consumer credit data

Mar 18, 2013 Dave King

Online and mobile payments have become some of the most significant and fast-growing markets in the current commerce environment. But, unfortunately, when it comes to technologies that allow the transmission of sensitive data, growth in usage is often accompanied by increasing risk to users. Cybersecurity solutions provider ThreatMetrix recently released a whitepaper aimed at helping business owners protect their companies from falling victim to some of the more common fraud trends.

The changing face of payments fraud
According to ThreatMetrix, executives should be more vigilant than ever when it comes to managing credit card information due to the increasing frequency of data theft incidents. The firm noted that in today's payments market, online transactions have become a "low-hanging fruit" for criminals, as many merchants and developers neglect to institute comprehensive security solutions, and researchers at comScore corroborated this idea with their own figures. ComScore discovered that in 2012, between November 1 and December 2 alone, ecommerce fraud totaled $21.3 billion. If payments providers and facilitators do not address these staggering numbers, they are only likely to continue to grow as more consumers make transactions over the internet.

ThreatMetrix cautioned that above all else, business owners must be aware that the ecommerce threats have already arrived and that they are very real. One important trend the company noted was that malware is becoming an increasingly common way for criminals to gain access to sensitive information. By using technology, rather than more person-based methods of attack like physical theft or screen watching at the ATM, wrong-doers make it more difficult to track down the sources of fraud, as well as for individuals to protect themselves. ThreatMetrix reported that research from Aite Group found that more than 111,111 new strains of malware are deployed every day. At this pace, it is challenging for solutions providers to keep up.

A 2012 study from cybersecurity firm McAfee found that more than 90 millions unique types of malware are currently on the loose, and that they are increasingly attacking mobile devices, CNN Money reported.

"Attacks that we've traditionally seen on PCs are now making their way to other devices," Vincent Weafer, head of McAfee Labs, told CNET. "This report highlights the need for protection on all devices that may be used to access the Internet."

McAfee discovered 13,000 strains of mobile-targeting malware at the time their research was released, while these numbers did not even reach 2,000 during the previous year.

Why e-commerce security matters
Online and mobile payments are no longer the rarity they once were. As more consumers own personal computers and devices like smartphones and tablets, they are increasingly using technology to address their needs in the financial sphere. Whether it be through checking their bank balances or making purchases, these individuals open themselves up as potential victims of credit card fraud. It is important for people to retain control over their consumer credit data due to how crucial a role it plays in obtaining many necessary resources.

While these risks to consumer credit data should certainly worry individuals, they should worry businesses as well on two distinct fronts. Damage to one's credit report can result in difficulties in getting loans, which can be critical to financing expansion for a company. Business owners that allow their own data to fall into the wrong hands may be able to find luck by using some short term lending and alternative credit data resources.

On the other end of the spectrum, business owners should be concerned about the security of ecommerce because a data breach could harm their customers and, in the process, cause the company to take a major hit. These incidents may make consumers hesitant to trust their credit card data to your business, and without a strong reputation for security, sales are likely to suffer along with public image.