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Cyber Credit Card Attacks Continue

Aug 5, 2016 | Internet Crimes

The word “cyberattack” is thrown around in the media all the time. According to Technopedia, it’s defined as the deliberate manipulation or corruption of a computer system and/or network, leading to disruption, data compromise and cybercrimes. Those crimes include identity theft, fraud, theft of intellectual property, denial-of-service, and other consequences.

Cyberattack at Wendy’s Restaurants

A recent example was reported last month by Wendy’s. According to the company, “some” of their restaurants were the victims of cyber activity that compromised the credit card information of its customers. Well, that might be something of an understatement. In fact, over 1,000 Wendy’s locations were targets of the attacks, which amounts to more than 15% of the entire restaurant chain. In Arizona alone, there were 18 locations in 13 cities that were affected.

How Difficult is it to Steal Your Credit Card Information?

Of course, the Wendy’s situation is not unique, or for that matter unusual. Similar attacks involving the theft of credit card info in the last few years have successfully targeted JPMorgan Chase, Visa, MasterCard, Subway and Home Depot, to name just a few. These are not situations in which an individual uses a skimmer to grab information swiped into a retail register, or where an individual surreptitiously copies down your credit card number, or even where someone swaps out a credit card reader for a modified version that stores the info. What a cyberattack does to obtain your credit card information is quite different, and it operates on a much larger scale. Here is one example.

The hacker finds a website or network with a low level of security, and hacks into it, i.e., gains access that enables him to modify it. He then sets up software (malware) which is installed on the network, and from there, accesses the check-out registers of the establishment. This allows the hacker to then download the credit card (and other personal identifying information) entered at the register. The malware is designed to evade antivirus and antimalware programs.

What is Done with your Stolen Credit Card Information?

So now the hacker has your credit card information. How does that translate into money for him? Lots of possibilities here. One way is for him to sell the info on the black market. Maybe he’ll get $6 or $8 per card. The buyer then sells it to someone who creates bogus cards, which are then sold to end users or perhaps wholesalers.

The major question for consumers, of course, is how to recognize – and avoid – vulnerable sites. Unfortunately, while there are steps you can take to avoid being hacked yourself, there is no easy way to figure out whether a third party (e.g., Wendy’s), has been compromised. To bring home the point, just a year ago a United States government network was hit and hit hard with a similar hacking debacle. In that case, 21.5 million people had their personal information stolen, including social security numbers!

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