Large corporations maintain databases of customer data, usually done to analyze the customer data to supply the business with marketing-related information. Sometimes it’s done to increase the collection rates on accounts receivables.
However, the larger question here is this: When customer data is compromised or stolen, who bears the responsibility for the data loss and subsequent damage? Especially in the case of using a third-party partner.
My opinion is that a business who accumulates customer data has a responsibility to safeguard that data…period. If they need to use a third-party, they should evaluate that company’s computer and Internet security as if it were their own. There is a computer security term “trusted computer” which, simply put, means that if your computer communicates with another computer, or if you have another computer system process your data, that computer system should be “trusted”. In other words, you should know that the other computer system has the proper level of security so that you can “trust” it with the processing of your data.
Unfortunately, we have very little control over our customer information after we give it to companies with which we do business. The only thing I can say to protect against data theft of this kind is to only give up the least amount of personal information when you “sign up” as a customer.
Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.
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Note that this article has been updated since it was published earlier today. It erroneously referenced a PC World article on theft of data from Bank of America.
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