Study: 55 percent of businesses don't encrypt customer data

Vendors have an obligation to protect their customers' private information. Not only will it help attain PCI compliance, it will enhance their own reputations and allow them to become a more desirable option for potential customers.

However, a study reveals that a number of businesses are not taking proper steps to protect customer information. A report released by Security Metrics found that 55 percent of businesses store unencrypted customer data. This means that customer information - typically from a credit card - is vulnerable to theft because it can be easily read by those looking for it.

Gary Glover, Security Metrics' director of security assessment, said in a press release that not only is storing unencrypted data incredibly risky, it violates a number of security regulations.

"Hackers proactively search for unencrypted card data because it takes less effort to steal," Glover said. "Whether a business stores unencrypted card data because of an improperly configured payment application, or because employees handle data improperly, storing data without encryption is against industry regulation."

The best way to comply with all payment regulations and maintain a proper level of customer security is by investing in a tokenization solution. This will ensure that information is protected from a targeted attack because it will be stored offsite and away from vulnerable servers.

In today's uncertain economy, businesses are becoming increasingly concerned with the safety of their data. Any breach that leads to the theft of personal information could have a disastrous impact on a company's operations. It is vital for vendors to do what they can to protect customer information for their own sake and the sake of those they rely on for their business.

Working with a payment solutions provider can help companies acquire the tools they need to safely process payments.

by Ty Hardison

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