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Security Firm Details How Cyber Attacks Compromise Credit

[Monday, September 15th, 2014]

Identity theft is one of the main culprits in bringing consumer credit scores down, and unfortunately, last year was a bad one for security breaches that led to payment card compromises for many people.

Among the biggest of these breaches was the Target payment data debacle, which saw the theft of 40 million credit cards’ account data. Seventy million Target shoppers were affected by this data breach, which occurred at the height of the holiday shopping season in 2013. Besides compromising people’s payment information and possibly negatively impacting their credit scores, Target took more than $148 million in losses. Some economists forecast that the total impact of the data breach will reach $1 billion when all is said and done.

Cyber security firm studies attack, offers safety tips

Now security firm Aorato has released a report on the attack, detailing exactly how it happened. More importantly, it offers steps that stores can take to prevent such criminal activity in the future. Although Target has pledged to install EMV-enabled payment stations at all point-of-sale terminals to provide a more secure payment experience, there are several other things that they, and other retailers, can do to help consumers feel safe shopping and using their credit cards in their establishments.

The guidelines they offer to retailers who store credit card information include:

  • Put security and behavior monitoring controls around payment directories, as they are crucial entry points for criminals
  • Monitor access patterns to identify strange or unrecognized access to payment information
  • Look for excessive queries to the payment systems and watch for information-gathering patterns
  • Don’t expect anti-malware software to protect from a cyber attack, as these criminals are able to leverage IT tools to get past these measures
  • Keep systems up-to-date and compliant with all payment safety standards
  • Share information with other retailers and participate in the Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center (R-CISC) to access intelligence about potential attacks and techniques to be aware of

Credit safer than debit for consumers

Folks who had their accounts hacked due to the Target breach or another of the high-profile breaches had to deal with the headache of cancelling cards, stopping automatic payments, and ordering new payment cards.

However, those who used credit cards rather than debit cards had a distinct advantage. People whose debit card accounts were hacked saw money disappearing from their bank accounts, while anyone who used a credit card was protected from having actual money taken out of their accounts.

Because of zero-liability policies, people whose credit cards were fraudulently charged were not affected as negatively as those who had to wait for the bank to investigate and credit funds back to their accounts.

Anyone who is dealing with bad credit, whether as a result of data breaches or not, can apply for a credit card meant for people who are rebuilding credit from a bad credit score. In the meantime, using EMV cards and shopping at stores that follow security guidelines will keep their payment information safe.

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