If Massachusetts-based businesses encounter a security breach, in which their in-store payment processing software is hacked or are victimized via e-commerce channels – they now have a local outlet through which to report such a crime.

The Bay State now has a Data Breach Reporting Online Portal, the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General recently announced. By dialing up the website – located at Mass.gov – affected companies can provide details on the nature of the security breach, how many people were affected and what, if any, steps were implemented to stop the attack or make the appropriate parties aware of what happened.

Maura Healey, Massachusetts' attorney general, indicated both business owners and consumers in the Bay State ought to have every resource available to them to stop these vicious attacks that can prove ruinous to individuals' credit and business owners' public persona.

"Data breaches are damaging, costly and put Massachusetts residents at risk of identity theft and financial fraud," Healey warned in a press release. "So it's vital that businesses come forward quickly after a breach to inform consumers and law enforcement.

Time is of the essence when financial accounts are attacked, Healey added, which is why the newly installed data breach reporting portal is a vital tool of which business owners should make full use.

Even though identity theft awareness has improved, hackers are constantly refining their strategies, aiming to exploit vulnerabilities that either customers or organizations neglected to address. Attacks come in a variety of forms, with some varieties being more ubiquitous than others. For instance, in 2017, ransomware incursions jumped 93 percent from the previous year, according to estimates from software solutions firm Malwarebytes. They rose 90 percent among businesses.

90 percent increase in ransomware attacks for businesses
Ransomware attacks have been around for awhile – tracing back to the late 1980s – but they've grown in popularity along with online access, creating outlets through which hackers can strike. They're done by tricking online users into clicking on a link that looks benign, but in reality installs software that effectively hijacks the system. Only the attacker knows how to free the data and demand payment for the information stolen to be released. Even after paying the ransom, though, there's no guarantee the stolen data will be released or fully recovered.

Breaches are equal opportunity offenders, impacting ordinary citizens, consumers and business places of various sizes. In Massachusetts, at least 21,000 instances of data being compromised were reported to the attorney general's office. More than 3,800 transpired in 2017, which wound up adversely impacting in excess of 3 million residents throughout the state.  

Keep customers in the loop
The National Cybersecurity Alliance advises business owners to make every effort in ensuring their customers know how their financial information is stored so individuals can take the appropriate precautions. For instance, instead of using debit cards for payment – which may be more vulnerable to a breach than other payment methods – credit cards can be a safer alternative, data security experts advise.

To learn more about implementing credit processing software that guards against security leakages, contact us at 911 Software online or by calling directly.