From the Desk of Webbula CEO, Vince Cersosimo
Friday morning, many of us woke to the unfortunate news of another large-scale data breach. This time it involved the exposure of over 809 million records including personally identifiable information (PII).
The data wasn’t exactly hidden either. A report from ZDnet stated that “ZIP codes, phone numbers, physical addresses, email addresses, genders, user IP addresses, and dates of birth are all available to anyone with an Internet connection.”
And here we go again.
Large-scale data breaches are sadly, nothing new. Between 2014-2018, cyber thieves stole information about a reported 500 million customers of Marriott International. In May of 2014, over 145 million users of eBay were compromised due to a cyberattack, exposing names, addresses, dates of birth and more. Equifax exposed personal information including social security numbers and birthdates of over 143 million individuals in 2017.
And the list, unfortunately, goes on. The big difference is now it includes an “email verification and validation service.” The email verification industry is undoubtedly going to come under a microscope again, due in large part to this one single email verification service provider.
One of the issues here is there’s plenty of opportunity for people to unfairly and negatively paint all data solutions providers with a broad brush. Although it happened to an email solution company, let’s remember that it can absolutely happen to any data solution provider, if you’re not careful. A low cost provider might not always be the best option, in the end it could cost you everything.
Another opportunity is to learn from the situation and ask ourselves: What can we learn from this event?
There’s a lot a data breach can teach companies about picking a reliable data solution provider. Here are concrete steps everyone should take when checking out your next data solutions company.
1. Check to see if they have an active Website
Although this seems silly, right?. This simple step could be important. Check to make sure the company has a legit active website, LinkedIn and D&B #. If they do have an active website, or little information on their site, that may be a big red flag.
- Do they have a linkedin profile? Or any other Social Media accounts
Almost all companies, Data solutions or not should have a linkedin profile, or any social media account if they are looking for business. If should be a big red flag if its a difficult process finding them online. Be cautious.
2. Do they have an About Us Page?
If the company is real business, there should always be an about us page, listing about their products, a story about how they got started and where the company is located.
- Do they list their Executives?
This is a simple step, just verifying that they have executives on their website can go a long way. Listing executives gives potential customers the peace of mind that I can raise any issues I might have to the highest levels of the organization.
- Do they have a Chief Security Officer?
Perhaps the most important deals with how the prospect company is staffed in terms of security. Ask if the company employs a security expert on staff. For example, Webbula has a Chief Information Security Officer, Jeremy Fox, on staff to secure our systems and data.
“Security today is vastly different than it was even six months ago,” Fox said. “It’s not just about firewalls and security software anymore – it’s about defense-in-depth strategies, intrusion-detection tools, and thinking about things in terms of a layered security.”
- Do they have an Opt-Out Policy?
This is an easy one. Check with the prospective company and make sure they have a process in place for consumers to opt-out if they want. For instance, at Webbula, we outline specifically and carefully the opt-out rules as part of our policy.
At the very least, it’s good to ask about a company’s opt-out policy.
4. How long have they been in business?
Simply check to see if years of operation are listed anywhere on the site. Experience matters, so if the company you’re researching doesn’t tell you how long they have been in business, or has been a short period of time, consider a more experience data solutions provider.
These are just a few simple steps you can take in order to choose the right data solutions provider for you. Not all data solutions providers are the same and when you factor in security and data handling policies, the differences can be dramatic. Spend some time researching companies before trusting a company with your data.
CEO of Webbula- The Data Solutions Experts