Consumers will fall out of love with brands that don’t secure data

It’s unlikely a reputable bricks and mortar business would ever leave its most valuable possessions unprotected and open to thieves, so why is it still so common for digital players to effectively leave the front door open?

lucy tesseras

It is astonishing quite how many businesses don’t have the adequate protection needed to safeguard against potential cyber threats.

This was illustrated again a few days ago when it came to light that niche dating group Cupid Media had suffered a security breach reportedly resulting in the data of 42 million members being stolen.

The fact the breach actually happened back in January only adds fuel to the fire.
The extent of the potential threat only became clear when security specialist Brian Krebs discovered the breach, and contacted the firm’s managing director Andrew Bolton who claims it took what it thought was “appropriate actions to notify affected customers and reset passwords”.

But what makes the matter worse is the fact that the stolen information wasn’t even encrypted – names, dates of birth, email addresses and passwords were all stored in plain text and clear for all to see.

It’s the equivalent of leaving two recent utility bills and your passport on the bus and hoping that no-one steals your identity.

Bolton also seemed to play down the severity of problem suggesting that the number of “active members” affected was considerably less than the 42 million stated.

So he is presumably not counting the members that Cupid Media has helped find love so no longer use its services – but whose details it may still be storing. Quite a common situation by all accounts.

And while I should probably clarify that I am not a member of, or myself (or any of the company’s 35 other niche dating collectives), as a consumer more generally it highlights just how exposed we all are to potential threats. Many businesses, it seems, still aren’t taking robust precautions.

I should also add that in the time between reading the news about the security breach last week and writing this column today, and all its various incarnations have gone offline, so maybe now the business realises just how severe the problem is.

The road to love doesn’t always run smoothly, but if businesses want to have any chance of building a long-term relationship with customers they need to understand how important trust is. Looking after what they hold dear is a good place to start.

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