Hackers target Target so check your transactions

Ted Hubert

Hackers target Target. Some Milam residents have received letters confirming that the department store found that their records holding sensitive data of its customers, have been compromised.

Names, credit card numbers, and other personal data, places millions of Target customers in harm’s way. This includes transactions involving debit cards, also.

The attack on Target hit customers shopping in its 1,797 stores. It is not clear how these hackers got data from the “point of sales” terminals, but they did.

The data stored can be duplicated. Cards can be counterfeited and used to make illegal purchases. If you shopped at Target between Thanksgiving and Dec. 15, you need to check your credit and/or debit card statements for purchases charged to you that you did not authorize.

Catching these items that were purchased illegally as soon as possible and reporting them to the card provider will allow you to change the card to a new number or call the provider and change the PIN.

Either or both of these actions will render the counterfeited card useless. Never underestimate the amount of personal data placed on the magnetic strip of credit/debit cards. As you swipe your card through terminals you normally do not think about the information you give about yourself. Target spokesman did say that the PINs were not captured by hackers. This security breach affected 40 million card holders.

Any time security at department stores, financial institutions, hospital records, major companies or government agencies, have been breached, the losses can run into the billions of dollars. Therefore, identity theft will continue as the number 1 scam in 2014.

We cannot relax. The con artists seem to stay well ahead of the security experts in finding ways to get money from victims. Dumb devices are getting smarter which may compound problems in the future.

You might think of this as remote spying through devices that have become more sophisticated.

Television watching is today’s major source of information and entertainment. While we are watching television from the safety of our homes, some con artist from far away are watching us.

Other devices frequently used are gaming systems, and baby monitors. In the past these devices were “dumb” but now they are able to connect to the internet, or they have cameras and microphones which elevates them into the “smarter” level of devices.

Cyber cops predict that con artists will focus on ways to use these devices to learn more about their victims. As these crimes are identified, the security experts will work on software to protect good people from the bad guys. The “internet of things” bring serious concerns for us to guard our best interests.

Hackers are able to capture personal data and use it for their personal gain.

Con artists that are successful in finding ways to lock-up your set, can demand payment to unfreeze your unit. Your set will have an infection.

A caller may identify himself as an FBI agent accusing you of some crime or you may have the caller explain that an internet virus has infected the computer and they have the software to unlock the set and return it to a workable computer again. The FBI warns against paying these demands because it will not solve the problem. Instead it will open new opportunities for more extortion. There is more bad news here because it is predicted that ransomeware will move to smartphones and other devices.

In 2014 we need to watch out for ways computers are invaded and data is erased. This change of focus from collecting data to erasing it just gives the crooks another way to take unfair advantage of the innocent. Hackers can enter your computer remotely and erase information on the C-drive. These crooks will put the information back on your computer for a price.

One way to protect yourself from this crime is to use flash drives to backup the C drive.

Saving information on a flash drive keeps anyone from remotely accessing it when it is placed in a drawer of your desk.

There are commercial companies that will store your backups, as well. Having some or all the data from your C drive erased can be devastating and actions should be taken to safe guard important information.

Have a happy and safe 2014.

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2014-01-02 digital edition

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