Credit cards, healthcare data on hackers’ hit list for 2015: Experian

It seems like there were headlines highlighting yet another data breach almost every week in 2014. Bad news for sure, and what’s worse is that we haven’t heard the last of them yet.

So what’s in store for data breaches in 2015? Turns out cybercriminals will still be after credit card data – but that’s no surprise, given criminals always look for the ultimate payload, which is usually financial data they can use to their advantage. Yet what’s also striking is that they’ll be eyeing healthcare data as well, according to Experian, a global information services group providing consulting services in finance, security, and regulatory compliance.

In a new report forecasting the nature of next year’s data breaches, Experian said hackers would continue to go after credit cards – but that they’ll be speeding up their attacks, thanks to the October 2015 deadline for merchants and retailers to start accepting credit cards with the chip and PIN system.

Canada has been using the chip and PIN system, powered through EMV technology, for some time now, but U.S. retailers still accept signatures as the de facto way of closing a credit card transaction. While the combination of chip and PIN is typically seen as more secure, eventually hackers may find their way around it, Experian said. However, for now, they’ll be concentrating their efforts on reeling in as many victims as they can – so even with the forced march to switch to chip and PIN, we should still expect to see a number of U.S. retailers hit with data breaches in the coming year.

But that doesn’t mean Canadian consumers’ credit card data is immune. If a retailer’s U.S. location is compromised, hackers might be able to wend their way into that retailer’s Canadian systems, getting their hands on credit card data located here.

Then there’s the issue of protecting healthcare data. While hackers have always targeted the most valuable forms of data, which includes private healthcare records, 2015 should be the year where we’ll hear of more healthcare-related data breaches than ever, Experian predicts.

One reason is that the concept of stealing healthcare data may present itself as a crime of opportunity. With more medical records becoming digitized, it should only become easier for hackers to remotely access them. Then there’s also the wealth of consumer data coming in through wearable technologies, where devices track everything from the number of steps someone takes everyday to whether a patient has taken the right dose of medication.

With all of that data flooding into hospitals and healthcare facilities, it’ll be up to them to keep track of their patients’ sensitive data and to store it safely – and they may  not be up to the task, given some of them may have limited resources in the IT department.

Ultimately, accessing and analyzing data to reap insights has been immensely helpful for businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, and individuals alike. So here’s hoping that in 2015, all of the different types of organizations that store data will be able to safeguard it, beyond simply using it.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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