How companies can better protect customers online

IF THERE'S one thing that’s sure to unfold in the next decade — it’s the full digital transformation, or the deliberate and purposeful steps by society’s most important institutions to do so. It’s been happening since the turn of the millennium. Governments, schools, and more evidently, companies, have been hell-bent in adopting advanced technologies that would make them “fully digital”, so as to keep pace with the times.

It’s no longer surprising to find students in private schools with tablets in class, or to pay for taxes through a mobile app. This push for digital transformation has pushed leaders, both in the public and private sectors, to apply tech-driven solutions to simplify processes and better the lives of people, in the hopes of staying relevant. That’s been achieved in some ways.

But in every pursuit of change comes the ramifications, big and small. The world’s race to technological advancement has also invited unwanted and malicious individuals to take advantage of all that’s vulnerable.

For the third year in a row, “data fraud and theft” have been named in the top five most pressing risks faced in the world today by the members of the World Economic Forum. In the last two years, that’s also closely followed by “cyberattacks”, showing the critical importance in securing technological infrastructure in keeping societies safe.

So how can the world’s drivers of change—from small enterprises to big companies–protect their customers, including employees, from some of the most critical risks faced in the world today?

Audit your company’s security measures

According to market research firm Frost & Sullivan, Philippine organizations may potentially lose $3.5 billion worth of productivity and sales, once hit by cybersecurity threats. The study conducted by the firm came up with the estimate by computing for the potential fines to be incurred by an organization that will be hit by a security breach, including a potential drop in spending as the public fears for the security of their transactions.

It’s a glaring number that shows the critical factor that tech security plays in ensuring economic activities run like a well-oiled machine. If you’re a small to medium enterprise that shows little to no regard in ensuring you safe keep the data you collect from customers for example, or even just your passwords, then now is the time do so. It’s a wake-up call, that no one, not even the smallest, or the biggest players may be spared from malicious intent.

Set up an online standard security measure for your employees. It’s time to inform them of basic security measures in safekeeping their data online, and the data they collect or get across in, in the office.

Install proper and efficient anti-malware software for your websites and other databases that are kept online. These solutions may be costly, but these are well worth the investment, especially when one thinks of the worst that could happen. Remember, part of the computation of Frost & Sullivan includes the potential losses businesses incur from lost customers due to reputation damage by cyber breaches.

Install extra security steps

Sadly, it’s come to a point that when industry names share data breaches, it isn’t even surprising anymore. From global giants like Facebook to local ones like Jollibee, companies have continued to struggle in keeping the data they collect safe. Not that it will stop wrongdoers from infiltrating your system, but installing extra measures to protect the accounts of your customers may make hacking an even harder task.

Recently, FSS, a global finance tech solutions provider, launched in the Philippines its Voice Commerce product, which allows banking clients, for example, to access their accounts online through their voice. This enables a multi-factor authentication model, decreasing the chances of fraud further. According to the company, it has already been deployed in one of the largest state banks in India.

At this day and age when hackers can get into the systems of even the biggest names in the industry, employing another security step, like voice authentication wouldn’t hurt. Aside from voice biometrics, other banks in the region, like the Unionbank of the Philippines, have also employed facial recognition tools, to double authenticate the identity of account holders. The company’s EON product lets users to open the mobile app through a selfie.

These solutions may sound like a novelty, even gimmicky for some. But at a time when malware is smarter and more sophisticated, security measures need to level up too.

Educate the market

Still, the most basic prevention to cyber threats may be proper education. Let your customers know the most common threats to their data privacy. Some platforms now demand their users to update passwords every three months. The country’s central bank has consistently deployed infomercials about phishing scams. A smarter client base coupled with a stronger security infrastructure will be a hard market to crack for hackers.

To be sure, these are no silver bullet solutions to cyber threats. They are initial steps any organization that handles client data can take to better protect the welfare of their company. (Contributed by Andrea Francheska Hicap)


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