Retail data breaches and protecting personal data

As reported by USA Today, Sears Holdings announced that it detected a data breach at its Kmart stores. As a result of malware that infected the Kmart payment data systems, information on customers’ credit and debit cards may have been hacked.

The Kmart breach is yet another major retailer to make the news for massive data breaches, following those of Target, whose 2013 breach potentially affected 40 million cardholders, and Home Depot, whose breach possibly affected over 60 million of their shoppers.

Reports of data breaches at these easily recognizable retailers catch the eye, but large retail chains are not the only corporations targeted by hackers. Many businesses use third-party payment processors, also victimized by hackers. Thus, while consumers may feel “safe” getting out their plastic at smaller establishments, in reality they may not be safer at all.

Protecting yourself
As I mentioned in an earlier post, businesses can buy insurance to protect themselves in the event of data breaches.

For consumers, homeowners policies may contain coverage for events such as identity theft. Banks and credit card companies are often sympathetic to hacking events, but resolution can be a lengthy process.

If you are looking for ways to protect yourself as a consumer, here are some ideas from USA Today – 5 ways to protect yourself from data breaches and Fox Business, 11 Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft.

Or, as Lloyd Dobler suggests, we could all stop buying things.