Focus shifts to consumer security after data breaches

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With an estimated half of U.S. businesses having experienced a data breach, focus turns to consumer protection. (WLS)

New data security breaches have Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan urging consumers and companies to learn more about how to prevent becoming a victim. A recent study shows that at least half of U.S. companies have experienced a data breach.

Cash or credit? These days the latter seems to be the most popular choice

"There is a whole generation that grew up on plastic and they are not going back to cash," says Canh Tran, CEO of Rippleshot.

Which means consumers should be prepared to have their credit or debit cards compromised. This week, Jimmy Johns joined a long list of big companies that have been hacked. Customers impacted are ones who paid by swiping their credit or debit cards. Experts say data breaches are here to stay.

"Every single hour of every single day there are cyber criminals trying to get into large corporate data bases, bank data bases hospital data bases," warns Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Madigan says years ago she passed a law requiring companies to notify customers if their personal information has been compromised. She says her office investigates to make sure businesses, both big and small take steps to prevent future fraud.

"All too often these companies don't have security measures in place," she says. "They are failing to encrypt our information; they are failing to update software when there is a known security problem."

And even if companies take all the right steps, cyber security expert Canh Tran says hackers will be a step ahead. Tran and Madigan both say consumers must constantly review bank and credit card statements. Transaction alerts help, and there are services such as LifeLock that checks your credit or apps like BillGuard or Mint that alert you immediately about a potential fraudulent charge. Soon all banks will issue credit cards with microchips.

"[Microchips will] protect you some, because it's harder to hack into that encryption," Tran says.

However, experts say credit card chips do not protect your information when used online. Using MobilePay, ApplePay and PayPal can help secure online transactions, but cyber criminals can still steal your information by breaking into passwords. While there are steps to mitigate a breach, there is no one solution.

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