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Identity Crisis: How Companies Can Mitigate Hacking Risks

by Thorsten Linz, chief digital officer, Draftfcb Munich

Another day, another data breach. We are getting used to it on a daily basis. Recently about 16 million Internet accounts have been compromised by hackers in Germany. Last month intruders accessed some 40 million payment card and up to 70 million customer records at Target. And the list goes on.
While we've got used to doing everything online or using electronic means such as credit cards to conduct daily transactions, we're learning the hard way that government agencies and hackers alike access our data at will.
While we've become very suspicious of any government wire taping activity we should be more concerned about hackers that find their way into corporate databases, selling credit card numbers and any other personal information on the black market. Consumers that are very reluctant giving up the conveniences gained by everything being digitised need to be reassured that our personal data is save from prying eyes. 
We need to see some action to protect our data otherwise businesses will start losing sales. Target saw customer loyalty decline after the credit card breach and offered a 10 percent discount on purchases to regain their trust. In addition, the entire situation caused their stock price to fall.
As marketers we all know that it is easier to retain existing customers instead of winning new ones. At this point it is important that businesses start communicating openly to their customers too reassure them that they will put the most advanced technology in place to protect them and their data. Apparently, technology at Target was out of date and build-in protection easy to circumvent for today’s sophisticated hackers. The best advertising campaign, the most intelligently designed CRM program will fail if our customers lose trust in us.
It will be probably just a matter of time until the next breach occurs and companies need to be better prepared. So here are my top tips to help protect your business:Take privacy policies seriously. Live up to moral obligations and legal standards - have crystal clear terms and conditions.Keep updating security technology. Technology is a rat race between hard- and software vendors and the thugs that try to find the holes in it.Have a crisis plan in place. If things go belly-up communicate openly with your customers and reassure and show them that you have things under control. ​