If most data breaches occur because consumers and businesses fail to take simple precautions, EZShield wants to help cut down on those mistakes.

Since 2001, EZShield has been in the business of educating consumers and businesses about data security and minimizing the damage when potential trouble is discovered, says Michael Catanzarita, the Palo Alto, Calif., company's chief financial officer.

Most breaches resulting in card fraud or identity theft occur because of simple human error or complacency regarding security systems, according to a Javelin Strategy and Research report published this week.

"Our services represent the educational and preventive measures," Catanzarita says. "We provide proactive reminders about things like changing passwords."

EZShield provides activity reports that cover broad areas of the business, with the most current emphasis being about a secure online presence, Catanzarita says. "EZShield started in 2001 with a checking account protection system, but now it is also important to understand how to be secure with social media," he adds.

For consumers, EZShield emphasizes the use of secure passwords as a simple and effective security tool.

"More than 70% of people use the same password for social media as they do for their online banking," says Laura Bruck, EZShield's solution strategist for financial institutions.

Such a trend illustrates what made the LinkedIn data breach a year ago so serious, Bruck says. With possession of a LinkedIn password, a hacker could try that same password on various financial accounts, Bruck adds.

EZShield works with banks and other financial institutions, helping those partners keep customer and bank data secure. The company's services include registering all credit and debit cards and monitoring customer funds to report suspicious activity or quickly resolve problems like lost or stolen wallets.

EZShield provides a secure online wallet, which replicates cards and IDs a consumer is carrying in a physical wallet. Banks, in turn, offer their customers the online wallet as part of their security services.

"The online wallet provides easy access for the consumer to know what he had in his wallet if it is stolen or missing," Bruck says. "We build that into our core restoration services."

The online wallet also lets consumers store passwords, so that everything the consumer possessed related to private data can be obtained, she adds.

As a way to determine if an EZShield user's personal or business checking account information has been compromised, EZShield monitors black market chat rooms, where cyber criminals sell and trade stolen data.

"A one-time scan is a base service, but a business customer can have recurring, monthly scans as part of an expanded program," Bruck says.

Through its bank partners, EZShield also developed an online portal for business customers to monitor security assessments, access information about fraud trends and receive security reminders.

Catanzarita says it is difficult to determine the time needed to thwart fraud or restore an identity. A business may not always know if an incident really is fraud, or a consumer may not know if his or her wallet is really stolen, he adds.

"It could take hours to resolve, or it could take days or weeks, depending on the severity," Catanzarita says.

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