Stepping Up Cybersecurity in a Changing Landscape

Oct 20, 2020 10:35 AM ET
Mike Britton, Chief Security Officer, Alliance Data

It’s not a surprise that much of our daily routines have changed as a result of COVID-19. We’re shopping online, spending time with our families virtually and working from home - all while trying to navigate the challenges and vulnerabilities that come with our increased usage and trust in digital technologies that cybercriminals are actively trying to take advantage of.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and at Alliance Data, data security and privacy is a top priority of our business and an integral part of our culture. From protecting our brand partners and cardmembers, to ensuring our associates have the necessary resources to be safe online, particularly in our new remote working environment, we remain vigilant in protecting our assets and leveling up our security measures.

An Offensive Approach to Protection

Alliance Data has implemented a breadth of technology solutions across the enterprise that take a proactive approach to protecting our Company, brand partners and the customers they entrust to us. Cybercriminals routinely take advantage of cardmembers’ personal or financial information for monetary gain. To combat this, we continually monitor the threat landscape. We collaborate with our IT and security experts to understand the continually evolving technology landscape to ensure we have the right blend of tools, processes and people in place to protect our assets and business.

With an increase in mobile payments and online shopping due to COVID-19, the pace of cybercrime has increased dramatically, to the point where many consumers have become desensitized to the latest headlines about companies suffering data breaches. This makes it even more important that we remain diligent in our cyber safety and privacy practices. As Alliance Data works to meet our brand partners’ and cardmembers’ evolving needs, we have specific strategic measures in place to ensure we are appropriately protecting our customers throughout their interactions with us.

Maintaining Business Continuity Throughout COVID-19

To maintain the health and safety of our associates at the onset of COVID-19, we quickly migrated the majority of our workforce to remote work. Fortunately, our IT infrastructure and cybersecurity investments had already laid the foundation to effectively, and securely, work remotely. We also adjusted our security awareness communications to encourage our associates to practice equally critical security and privacy safeguards at home.

We actively train our associates to be security and privacy minded and have ongoing testing and assessments of employee security awareness. To drive accountability and transparency across the Company, we regularly present security performance metrics to our Board of Directors.  

To stay on top of cyber criminals, this year we made dramatic improvements around phishing and business e-mail compromise (BEC) prevention tools. We are leveraging machine learning (ML) with a new tool that has dramatically cut down the number of suspicious and malicious emails received. This tool learns patterns and behaviors on top of normal phishing detection, and can determine when abnormal interactions and emails take place between email recipients.

While compliance policies and regulations set a baseline, we make a point to go beyond that for our stakeholders. Safeguarding information and respecting consumer privacy are central to everyone’s role at Alliance Data. Our commitment to good data governance and protection is foundational to protecting our brand partners and their customers. For more information on Alliance Data’s ongoing commitment and approach to ensuring the secure and responsible use of data, please visit