Protecting Your Digital Identity In Our World Today

Ashley H

As more of our day to day business and transactions begin to take place exclusively online, our digital identities grow.

Compromised of all of the information recorded about a person, and collected from every online platform and account, digital identities can paint an eerily accurate picture of who we are in the real world and what is most important to us. What’s worse is how vulnerable our digital identities and ourselves by extension, really are.

Consumers upload so much of themselves to online platforms, both out of necessity to meet online security measures and out of a desire to make conducting business and transactions smoother. It is estimated that the average consumer has over 100 online accounts, all requiring and storing identifying information. Whether that be basic information such as an email account, a birth date and an address, or more sensitive information such as financial details. Any of which, if stolen, can leave consumers vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.

While that may sound a little dramatic or farfetched, think about it as placing your trust and your identity in those security measures for each of those 100 accounts.  Also consider that over 80% of consumers reuse the same password across multiple accounts. And unfortunately no matter how strong a consumer’s password is, if just one of those 100 accounts was hacked and the consumer’s stored details were stolen, the hacker would be able to use that same information from the first account to access all kinds of accounts and potentially sensitive information to commit fraud or identity theft.

Hacking Incidents In The Last Five Years

In the past five years alone there have been billions of hacking incidents. In 2013, there were 3 billion Yahoo! accounts hacked, meaning each of the user’s  private information was compromised. In 2014, Ebay suffered a data breach, with over 145 million accounts made vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. And just last year the Marriott had 500 million user accounts hacked, demonstrating that all businesses, big and small, are vulnerable to online hacking, which places all their users at risk.

Consumers however, are not the only party at risk. Businesses can have just as much to lose when it comes to online security. On the one hand, there is significant pressure for businesses to be sure that the people they’re working with are who they say they are, otherwise they put themselves at risk of failing to meet domestic and international anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC), compliance standards.

The more identifying information they can store about their users helps the business to verify their identities at a later time. So businesses amass huge data banks of their user’s information to protect themselves and their users from hackers looking to commit fraud and identity theft. Unfortunately these data banks then become targets for much larger hacking operations.

The Cost of a Data Breach

A 2018 study found that the global average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million. Breaking that statistic down revealed that the average cost per hacked user record was $148, which is an increase on the average cost from previous years. And while businesses have to make these financial reparations, perhaps more damaging still, is the loss of their user’s trust and the sometimes irreparable damage to their reputations. Leaving data unsecured and vulnerable therefore is a risk neither users or businesses can afford.

Are You Collecting or Storing Your Customers' Data?

The best way to protect your digital identity is to be mindful of the businesses you give your information to by looking into how they store and protect your data. Or better yet, look for businesses that don’t store your data at all, but rather use real-time identity verification technologies to establish you are who you say you are.

For instance, businesses who use RapidID don’t collect or store data but rather uses a variety of identity verification technologies such as fingerprints, voice and facial recognition to check over 100 billion identity records from over 180 different countries. This eliminates the risk of a businesses data being breached and protects users from the dangers of hacking and identity theft.

Whether we like it or not, our digital identities now play a vital role in our daily lives, a roll which will only grow over time. Taking steps to protect our digital identities has never been more important for consumers and businesses both.