You get an email…if you’re lucky, you find out by email. Sometimes you don’t even get that consideration, you find out about it through the news. The details are vague and sketchy but you feel a pit in your stomach regardless. There’s been a data breach, and yes, it’s from a service you’ve used. It might not be your biggest nightmare, but you’re definitely losing sleep tonight.

Thoughts flood through your head:
“Was I one of the ones that was affected?”
“How much information did they get?”
“What should I do now?”
And most importantly “How worried should I be?”

This pattern has occurred far too frequently lately and worst of all, the companies that are targeted don’t even notify their users until well after the breach has occurred. It was recently revealed that Yahoo suffered a breach of one billion accounts back in 2013 but customers were not notified. Essentially these loyal Yahoo users had been compromised for 3 years and Yahoo didn’t bother to tell anyone.  So much for the idea that you’re “valued as a customer”.

Tom’s Guide recently published a list of the worst data breaches of all time and some of the information in there was startling to say the least:

  • More than half of the breaches on the list didn’t notify their users of any breach until at least a year after the breaches took place.
  • Account information, personal records, and even credit card information was accessed through these breaches.
  • All told more than 2.6 Billion users were compromised as a result of these breaches.

At its best these data breaches can lead to identify theft, at its worst people will have money stolen right from their pockets. Another byproduct of data breaches is the idea of exposure as many users of Ashley Madison learned the hard way when their account ownership was revealed. Morality issues aside, lives were ruined in all cases due to companies being careless about cybersecurity.

Customers can no longer trust that companies have in place an adequate cybersecurity infrastructure to prevent breaches. It’s become more important than ever to withhold personal information as much as possible and to research the cybersecurity plans of a company before providing information.

You’ll need better cybersecurity than this…

Conversely companies need to be upfront and promote the ways they will keep personal customer data secure. Those that show they are reliable in this area will have a natural competitive advantage over those that are not so upfront.

Unfortunately in this age companies (as well as customers) need to be proactive to protect against hackers and data breaches. And, let’s be honest, it’s in the best interests of a company to have a good defense plan to make their customers feel secure.

After all, do you trust the company that has planned to counterstrike hackers or do you trust the company that’s still in the cybersecurity wilderness? If you answer that question correctly then you may never need to worry about getting any nightmare emails again!