This morning, we’ve learned that ride-sharing service Uber suffered a data breach last year, resulting in the account details of some 57 million passengers and drivers being stolen. It is truly sad, but not shocking. Over the course of the past 10 years, we in the West have gotten to a point where the scale of this incident is perceived as being “not that big”. But it shouldn’t be this way. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Data breaches have a two-tier impact. On the one hand, there’s the immediate financial damage caused by stolen identities and payment credentials. On the other hand, there’s the issue of undermined trust between the company and its customers. It’s hard to quantify the complete cost of a data breach, partly due to the lack of full disclosure obligations in some legislations, and partly due to the subjective nature of consumer trust. Nonetheless, that impact is very real and it can hurt business.
While Uber has “only” had its customer database breached, in the US alone, there have been at least four major incidents this year involving payment systems. And it is shocking to see that, despite the fact that there are well-established security solutions available on the market, these incidents keep happening. As we’ve stated numerous times on this blog and elsewhere, mobile payments offer a higher degree of security than traditional card payments. Technologies like tokenization and our patented Split Secret card vault make sure that even if transaction data is intercepted by malicious attackers, no sensitive card details can be obtained.
In our continuing campaign to educate the market, we recently set out to create an easily digestible visual overview of the issue of data breaches in the digital age, their consequences and various solutions available on the market to help defend against them. We’ve looked at various industries, including retail, banking and online services, and used some better-known examples to illustrate the seriousness of these incidents. The result of our research is our latest infographic on payment security, which you can download from our website for free.
That the revelations about Uber’s breach come at the same time that we’re announcing our infographic is just a lucky coincidence (we actually published it yesterday). Nonetheless, this is as good an occasion as any to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of payment security in the digital age.