Each week the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) releases its Data Breach Report. This report contains, among other information, a running tally of the annual number of data breaches. In its most recent report, released on October 19th, the ITRC calculate that there have been 783 data breaches through the first nine and half months of 2016. That equates to 20 breaches a week! In total, over 29.5 million people have had their records put at risk for identity theft. Our industry, classified as Banking/Credit/Financial on the IRTC report, accounts for 4.2% of the breaches which put at risk over 26,000 records, or 684 records per week.
Although not all breaches end in identify theft and the resulting financial damage to the victim, the fact that our industry exposes almost 700 people per week to the risk of identity theft supports our industry’s push to improve data security. We at String fully support this push and consider the security of our customer’s data as our number one priority. It is one of the key reasons why we’ve spent the time and resources to obtain ISO 27001 certification and SSAE 16 Attestation. Though it’s our use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that does the most to help us protect our customer’s data while affording us several additional benefits that we’ve shared below.
But first, what’s a VPN?
VPNs are one of the best ways to transfer data that contains Non-public Personal Information. As the name implies, a VPN is a private network that is built on top of a shared or public network, such as the internet, for the specific purpose of sharing or transferring secured and encrypted data from point-to-point or site-to-site. In effect, a VPN is a tunnel from one business to another business that is only accessible to and used by the two businesses.
Why we like VPNs
1. Whether it is for personal or business use, security is the number one benefit of a VPN. All data transmitted and received through a VPN is encrypted and, as the owner, you get to choose the level of encryption. Furthermore, data is only routed through the VPN when one of its owners makes a connection. As such, a VPN is much less vulnerable to unauthorized access and the potential theft of data. They are a great tool to help you address the security concerns and regulations of our industry and the reason why we at String conduct over 90% of our business through VPNs.
2. VPNs can be set up quickly, and as we frequently do, can be built remotely. There are no standards on how a VPN should be set up so it is up to you to determine which authentication and security protocols are used. While this may be a daunting prospect to those who have never set up a VPN, rest assured that due to the popularity of VPNs there is an abundance of professionals, or even business partners, that can assist you in creating a VPN. For example, Strings’ IT team routinely sets up VPNs for our new customers.
3. VPNs are cost effective in that they can often be created using your existing servers.
4. VPNs provide a more stable and dependable connection than other networking alternatives. Since they do not rely on third-party networks, they are less susceptible to outages and when issues do occur, those issues can be more readily addressed. Case in point, our IT team is on-call 24/7 to troubleshoot and fix any issues that may arise with our VPNs.
5. VPNs are very easy for your employees to use. By following simple step-by-step instructions, they can quickly connect to a VPN and begin transferring secure, encrypted data with your business partner.
While technology advances at a rapid rate and new and better networking technologies have improved the features of VPNs, much of the underlying technology has remained the same. This consistence, coupled with the popularity of VPNs, provides evidence to the effectiveness of VPNs as a secure communication tool.
TMC - Chief Operating Officer
President/CEO - Pulte Financial Services