There has been a lot of chatter in the United States after huge breach in security that saw Target hacked and upwards of 70 million customers compromised. In the following weeks there was a great deal of paranoia regarding whether or not to go to Target or any other store.
Now there are arguments regarding whether or not credit cards or debit cards are safer and which stores are better able to prevent information from leaking.
But here is the cold truth: It doesn't matter.
It doesn't matter if you use credit or debit. It doesn't matter whether you brave Target or opt for the Walmart down the street.
No matter where you go with your American-issued card, you are at risk. Because the technology that we use for our credit and debit cards is hopelessly out of date and so easy for criminals to hack, it is frightening.
The technology that we use for our cards is roughly the same as what it takes to record music to a cassette tape. And as you don't see people beating down the doors at the local music store for their favorite artist's latest cassette release, that should clue you as to just how old this technology is.
Visa pushes credit card industry to enhance security measures | http://t.co/Q1ISjM2qdY
— SCMagazine (@SCMagazine) February 2, 2014
There's a reason you don't hear about these sort of threats in other parts of the world: The systems have evolved. Instead of relying on a flimsy magnetic strip, the credit cards use chips to house data. These chips use a level of security that is very hard for hackers to penetrate. Most hackers don't even bother. Why would they? There are millions of potential victims in a very wealthy country where institutions continue to issue cards that remain steadfastly behind the curve.
There is no major push for change because the process of updating the cards costs more money than any of these institutions are willing to spend.
So the question becomes, what's going to have to happen for things to change in the United States? Given the reluctance to move forward despite these major breaches, one can only imagine a huge catastrophe will have to occur.
Usually in situations like this, the desire to evolve only arises after one's hand is forced. Sadly, we haven't gotten to the point of sensible proactive measures.
Image via Wikimedia Commons