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Cybersecurity – Bringing physical safety to the digital world

A world beyond cash – MasterCard recently held a conference in Miami, Florida, providing an exposition of topics related to card-based commerce, cybersecurity, block-chain and chip-enabled technology. MasterCard, a technology company in the global payments business, connects banks, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 201 countries and territories throughout the world, continues to market and expand its activities throughout the Caribbean. Caymanian Times was invited to attended the one day media briefing titled, A World Beyond Cash, along with other journalists from the Caribbean region. For the next several weeks we will be reporting on a variety of topics discussed at the conference and the potential impact to consumers in the Cayman Islands.

Can you imagine a world without cash? Although truly cash-less commerce is a way off, industrial societies around the world are gradually moving in that direction. It is believed that the vast majority of Cayman Islands residents have either credit cards, debit cards, or prepaid cards and receive their paychecks via direct deposit.

Therefore, the next logical question is: How is my hard earn money being protected?

Today, the Internet is a global information infrastructure, the initial prototype of what is often called the National or Galactic information infrastructure. By 1985, the internet was already well established as a technology supporting a broad community for daily computer communications. Electronic mail was being used broadly across several communities, often with different systems. As a result, interconnection between different mail systems was demonstrating the utility of broad-based electronic communications between people and organizations. The history of the Internet’s creation is complex, but it is now intertwined in almost every aspect of our lives. From technological and organizational support, to a granting of unrestricted access in our search histories as we move toward an increased use of online tools to accomplish information attainment, community operations, and electronic commerce.

The potential danger of an infrastructure this large that operates worldwide over multiple platforms, providing access to ex-employees, computer programmers, and others who are constantly attempting, and in most cases successfully, penetrating this vast inter-connected network is why I have to ask if my hard-earned money is even safe. Cyber security comprises technologies, processes and controls that are designed to protect systems, networks and data from cyber-attacks. Effective cyber security reduces the risk of cyber-attacks and protects organizations and individuals from the unauthorized exploitation of systems, networks and technologies. In the past five years there has been more than 10 billion digital records stolen – currently, there are more than four billion people connected and with several devices connected, one could stretch that number to over eight billion devices connected to the internet. By 2023 that number will grow to over 50 billion devices connected to the internet.

Cyber security is designed to keep computer systems running smoothly, prevent the theft of financial and personal information, and block intruders from accessing and divulging proprietary data. Recall that the largest data heist in history did not happen with the use of guns, but by hacking digital information systems.

So, how do organizations such as MasterCard secure such a vast network ecosystem? According to Patricio Hernandez, Senior V.P. Enterprise Security Solutions of MasterCard, by being proactive and coming up with better security alternatives. For example, the 16-digit number on the face of your card will no longer be the number used to make transactions – MasterCard is introducing a process called tokenization where they will provide a number to your card behind the scenes for consumers to make purchases. (Tokenization will be discussed in more detail in later articles). Additionally, MasterCard has spent considerable resources developing alternative ways and techniques to harness one’s digital footprint – every time you use your cell phone, for example, you leave a unique digital footprint (data points) consisting of your location, how you connect to the internet, the speed at which you type, the amount of errors you make using your phone, and even the way in which you hold your phone. By harnessing this information and more, your phone can be matched to a specific user within seconds. MasterCard will be implementing the collection of over 100 data points, which will be used to identify a particular user.

After joining in the conversation and receiving feedback from MasterCard executive presentations, we have greater confidence in knowing that our hard-earned money will be secure in this new digital ecosystem.

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