Data breaches hurt more than e-retailers’ bottom lines

March 27, 2015 08:36 AM

In the aftermath of 783 reported data breaches in 2014, e-retailers and the vendors that serve them need to take steps to reassure consumers and customers that their payment data is safe, said Bill Cohn, Vantiv Inc. director of product management, e-commerce, at the Merchant Risk Council's conference in Las Vegas this week.

Those reported breaches likely represent no more than 50% of all breaches last year, says Cohn, whose firm provides payment processing services. He adds that each "compromised record" in a breach costs retailers an average loss of $201, plus the confidence of many former and would-be customers. He advised attendees to shore up their fraud defenses via tokenization—a technology that renders payment card data into seemingly unbreakable code—and software that allows retailers to receive updated payment card information for consumers whose cards have expired or been compromised.

In the wake of recent data breaches, HSN Inc., No. 26 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, has taken steps to tighten its fraud defenses, said Brodrick Williams, the e-retailer's operating vice president of fraud and loss prevention, during the same session, entitled "Shock to the System: The New Normal for E-Commerce After Data Breaches."

Without being too specific, Williams said that within the past year, HSN has adopted token technology to combat fraud, "among other things." He says the retailer employs at least 35 workers in its fraud group, adding, "we can always use more help."

Account updating is employed by email marketing vendor Constant Contact Inc., said its advisory software engineer Kevin Salerno. The company depends on recurring revenue and receives 99% of payments via credit cards, meaning that any expired or cancelled card disrupts that flow.






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