The Target Breach: What happened?

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On December 15, 2013, Target discovered that their computer system was breached by hackers who were able to gain access to consumer’s credit and debit card information, as well as pin codes. Over 70 million shoppers were affected. Target has offered to give all of its guests who have been affected one year of free credit monitoring. Quenten Fottrell from The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch quotes John Ulzheimer, a credit expert at CreditSesame.com, saying, “Credit monitoring doesn’t alert you if someone fraudulently uses your payment information.” Banks like Chase and Citi Bank have reimbursed their customers and issued new debit and credit cards.

According to Julie Schmit and Beth Belton from USA Today, a California cybersecurity firm claims a seventeen year old from Russia was held responsible for authorizing the malware that broke into Target’s system. Malicious Software, more commonly known as Malware, is designed to gain access to and damage computers or operating systems without the owner’s permission. This is why virus protection is strongly encouraged for all computer owners. It filters out the good and bad for servers. The hackers were able to disguise their virus as “good” and were able to pass through the server. Unfortunately, this breach left thousands of customs exposed. This incident has caused the public to be more cautious in using credit and debit cards.

According to an Associated Press story published after the Target breach, about 50% of Americans are concerned about their personal data. However, only 41% have checked their credit reports and even fewer have changed their online passwords.

Based on Target’s website, Target’s CEO Greg Steinhafel says, “The cause of this issue has been addressed and you can shop with confidence at Target”. He also mentions that consumers are not held responsible for any fraudulent charges made to their accounts. Some of the ways companies can prevent fraud from happening is by not saving unnecessary information. It puts companies as well as their customers at risk. The Editorial Board of the New York Times says, “No security measure will ever rid the economy of theft and fraud completely. But there is evidence that companies could do a lot more to protect data.” They also recommend retailers and banks to move away from the magnetic strip on the back of cards and move on to chip-based cards which are harder to duplicate.

College students sometimes feel carefree when they use their cards and are not aware of possible outcomes. An article written by Russ Warner says, “Young adults aged 18 to 24 are among the last to detect identity theft”. We claim that we fear the threat of our personal information being made public, but we don’t take any necessary actions to protect it.

 

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