Essential tips for preventing data breaches in 2018

Wynand Smit (CEO of INOVO, a leading contact centre business services provider) shares his insights into cyber security for the year ahead.


Hacking, data breaches: what’s the point in owning a luxury yacht if it leaks? That’s what many businesses are like, seeking state-of-the-art upgrades and slick interfaces but neglecting to secure business and customer data. 2017 has highlighted that many companies are vulnerable, and that hackers and fraudsters could sink those ships.

It’s not just the occasional data leak, one recent example from a South African real estate company exposed the personal data of over 30 million people, including ID numbers, addresses, passwords, salaries – just about anything you probably wouldn’t want to share with the world, since that information could be used by hackers to access your online profiles and accounts, allowing them to change passwords and operate as if they’re you.

A local journalist proved this by taking the leaked data of his colleague (with the colleague’s consent) and then contacting a contact centre. He was able to use the data to get “his” identity verified, after which he was able to view everything about his colleague, right down to his family’s medical history.


Please could you answer a few questions…

Central to the issue of data breaches that expose all sorts of company and client information is the means by which companies conduct identity verification in interactions with customers. So-called security questions may indicate that you are who you say you are, but if someone else knows your mother’s maiden name, the name of your first pet and the person you call most on your phone, they can easily impersonate you.

A more efficient means of identity verification gaining traction uses biometric identification, unique identifiers including fingerprints, hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves, DNA, and signatures.

Locally, companies are beginning to see the benefits of moving to voice recognition as a means of identification. Voice authentication works by recording the voice of the customer either in response to prompts or passively while the customer is on a voice call with the contact centre. This recording is converted into a sophisticated digital voice imprint unique to that customer. All inbound voice calls are also compared with a database of known fraudsters in real-time – enabling companies to pro-actively flag identity theft attempts before they occur.

This form of identity verification is secure and less invasive than other forms, and also reduces the time it takes to verify a person by as much as 70 percent. From your customer’s perspective, it replaces those frustrating questions that must be answered (sometimes multiple times within an interaction), so your customer can get straight to the point.


Companies are beginning to see the benefits of moving to voice recognition as a means of identification.


Blockchain technology – the next level?

Businesses are exploring the possibilities presented by Blockchain technology; while it’s yet to gain a foothold locally, this could revolutionise how we do business, particularly when it comes to security. This trust-based economy allows two people to verify identity within seconds by using data. In addition, it also creates a secure place to access contracts, documents, passport and driver’s license renderings and other information.

Like voice authentication, this would help to plug the holes in identity verification. We may not see Blockchain being applied in a local context in 2018, but its application is likely to gain traction in years to come.

Is your business “yacht” leakproof? Perhaps it’s time to examine how secure your data is, for the sake of you and your customers.

Wynand Smit