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Target Hackers Pounced On Outdated Security System

In the aftermath of the second-largest credit card security breach in American history, new details are emerging regarding what lead to it—and why it may very well happen again. On December 19th, th...
Target Hackers Pounced On Outdated Security System
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  • In the aftermath of the second-largest credit card security breach in American history, new details are emerging regarding what lead to it—and why it may very well happen again.

    On December 19th, the retailer Target announced that upwards of 40 million credit card numbers were hacked between the period ranging from the day before Thanksgiving until about December 15th. While the company conveyed in its message that the customers were not at fault and that they likely would not be in any serious danger, it fell on deaf ears. Customers were very upset, especially when it became impossible for victims of the theft to contact company personnel to ask important questions.

    Target hoped to do damage control by offering first a 10% discount to all shoppers for a couple of days and then a free credit check. The efforts seem to be coming up short in the eyes of the public. First there are those who were negatively impacted by a credit limit imposed by JPMorgan Chase as a security precaution. As a result, last minute Christmas shopping would be extremely curtailed for those who braved Target’s checkout lines.

    The free credit check is hardly generous since a free credit report is available annually from only one source: A government-sponsored website called Annual Credit Report. Regardless of Target’s mentioning it, consumers could go to the same place…So just how generous is this offer really? As for the 10% discount, it remains to be seen if it will make a dent in the negative publicity.

    If you are an impacted consumer who intends to take your business elsewhere or are breathing a sigh of relief at having avoided this particular catastrophe, then there is something you need to know. According to security experts, the problem that lead to the massive hacking is not Target’s fault alone. It’s actually an American problem. The very cards you use have an outdated security measure – the magnetic strip on the back.

    The card strips are based on the very same technology that gave us cassette tapes. That’s right, CASSETTE TAPES. Think about when those tapes were a dominant music medium and count the decades between then and now. Other wealthy countries have moved on to cards that use digital chips to hold information. These cards are secure to the point that it’s too much work to hack them. Why bother when you have one of the wealthiest nations on the planet using measures that are decades behind?

    If you were hoping to avoid a major breach in the future by taking your credit or debit card elsewhere, don’t bother. Experts say that it’s just a matter of time before the next breach happens. The only way to get around it would require millions of Americans to be upgraded to more secure and better made cards. Unfortunately, this is a pricy solution that many companies will not bother with if they don’t have to. As for the stolen cards, hackers have already started putting fake versions on the black market.

    To avoid immediate detection, it seems these individuals are selling the cards in the same areas they were stolen from. Financial institutions tend to be more mindful of card transactions that take place far from the zip code location where a card owner resides and shops. If a stolen card is being used within the same area as the victim, unless that card has been reported stolen then odds are they won’t notice.

    The best bet for all victims is to cancel the cards immediately and get new ones. Additionally, persons must carefully consider where and how they use their cards and be mindful of their credit information. If you really think about it, these are the sort of measures that sensible shoppers are meant to use regardless.

    Image via Target Official Facebook Page

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