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Geoff Forsyth, CTO, PCI Pal 

PCI Pal’s Geoff Forsyth takes a look at how businesses will respond to growing security threats in 2019, using technology to secure their contact centre and protect customer payment data.

Over the last 12 months, businesses around the world have experienced an increase in the number of attacks from criminals wanting to steal data. T-Mobile, Marriott Hotels, British Airways and Orbitz were all targeted, as well as some much larger businesses including Google.

Although payment details weren’t stolen in all of these cases, details were made available to criminals in some of these incidents. This is causing great distrust among customers, and our recent report revealed that it’s having a significant impact on sales, with 41% of UK consumers (and 20% of US consumers) saying they’ll never return to a brand or a business after they’ve experienced a breach.

Additionally, almost a third of UK consumers said they would spend less with a company they believed to have insecure data practices and a quarter wouldn’t shop at all with a company they didn’t trust.

So what actions will (and should) businesses take in 2019 to protect themselves and their customers against a payment data breach in the coming 12 months? Here are our top payment security and contact centre predictions for 2019.

Customers will wise up to security

Geoff Forsyth

Geoff Forsyth

With so much news of big firms failing to protect customer data, it’s no surprise the public is becoming a little wary about which companies they use. Following the introduction of the much-hyped GDPR, people are also beginning to understand their rights (and company obligations) when it comes to securing data and customers’ expectations will continue to rise in 2019.

PCI Pal’s recent investigation into customer attitudes to security revealed that nearly half of those surveyed know they should check a company’s security processes and 22% said they question businesses directly or research how an organisation safeguards consumer data.

This scrutiny makes it even more important for businesses to be completely transparent about their data practices, whether taking payments over the phone or online, or collecting data for marketing purposes.

AI becomes a vital tool for successful businesses

Artificial intelligence is becoming a hot topic across sectors and it’s certainly not going to leave the finance sector untouched. Over the last year, we’ve seen more banking institutions turning to AI to offer a better customer service experience, but in 2019, it will be used to secure the contact centre against fraud too.

Businesses will start to employ AI and machine learning security platforms alongside the proven security methods such as firewalls, spam filters and trained IT teams to adapt in-line with the hackers themselves.

Additionally, contact centres will start implementing AI Interactive Voice Response to offer a way of bridging the gap between increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks and the traditional high churn rate of contact centres.

Not only will this secure the data centre, ensuring the highest levels of security can be adhered to by removing the human element of contact centre communications (a high churn rate means staff may not be as clued up on security processes as they perhaps should be), but it will also reassure customers that their payment details are not being exposed to potential thieves.

Threats will continue to evolve

Every year, we experience new and more complex threats to data. Whether these attacks use the same tools as previous years or adopt new ways of delivering malware or infiltrating a network, they are likely to be less predictable.

Three core entry points will, however, remain constant: new vulnerabilities in new systems, old vulnerabilities that haven’t been patched and human error. Businesses must ensure that the basics are covered, patches are installed and staff are trained to mitigate these risks to their business, plugging any gaps in network infrastructure.

Cyber security budgets will increase

As technologies become more sophisticated to both carry out and fight cyber-crime, business cyber security budgets have to increase. Securing an organisation isn’t just about “throwing money at a problem”, but it’s about intelligently assigning budget to the right areas and ensuring the technologies and priorities match the criminals’ own.

Retailers will be forced to adopt new tools and seek expert help

The retail industry is considered to be one of the least trustworthy according to customers in our study into attitudes to security breaches. In fact, 40% of respondents said they believe the sector is the most likely to suffer security breaches, just behind financial organisations.

As a result, retailers are starting to invest in more sophisticated systems to replace their legacy solutions and employ security experts to ensure their businesses are sufficiently protected and this trend will continue into 2019.

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