Biggest data leaks for 2014 and how to safeguard information going forward

2014 was the year that cyber-criminals detected the vulnerability of American consumers. Since we use debit and credit cards everywhere we go, it makes sense for hackers to infiltrate point-of-sale systems at different retailers. This allows them to get the credit card information from the source. Target and Home Depot may have been the biggest breaches of the year, but Staples and other retailers were also affected.

70 Million Target Customers Affected by Security Breach

Who doesn’t shop at Target? The fact is that Target is a major retailer in the United States. Hackers picked one of the busiest seasons to compromise the point-of-sales terminals of the giant retailer. Between November 2013 and December 2015, the thieves got away with information about 70 million Target shoppers.

The information that was stolen included customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates, the three-digit CVV codes located on the back of the cards, and even PIN numbers for 40 million of those customers. This tremendous security breach was very hurtful to the company and its customers.

As a result of the theft, as many as 40 million credit and debit cards were reported as stolen. Target may be liable for $3.6 billion as a result of the attack. Target’s quarter earnings were expected to increase before the security attack, but the company ended up reporting a 2.5% decline in sales.

The worst part about it is that Target’s name is now associated with one of the biggest security breaches in the recent past. Consequently, costumers have lost trust in the company’s security measures. Hopefully, the implementation of the new chip card system will help the company and its customers move forward.

Hackers Steal 56 Million Credit Cards from Home Depot

While hackers were able to make millions of dollars with the attack on Target, they were not done. Later that year, investigations revealed that hackers had infiltrated the payment systems at Home Depot in a separate breach, exposing about 56 million credit and debit cards and 53 million email addresses of Home Depot customers.

How did the hackers get in? It turns out that hackers used the login credentials of a 3rd party vendor to penetrate Home Depot’s computer network, which is also what happened at Target. Then the hackers installed custom-built malware that stole payment information and email addresses.

Forbes estimated that this security breach will end up costing the Home Depot about $10 billion over the next few years. These costs include investigation of the data breach, notification of the affected customers, identity theft and credit monitoring services, lost profits and opportunity costs due to the interruption of doing business, and lawsuits.

In the meantime, the hackers are using underground Internet forums to sell millions of stolen credit cards.

Hackers Steal 1.16 Million Credit Cards from Staples Customers

While Target and Home Depot may have been the retailers that were hit the hardest, they were not the only ones. In October 2014, investigations revealed that the office retailer Staples had been hit. According to official sources, this security breach affected about 1.16 million customers.

The hackers were able to infiltrate the point-of-sales systems at 115 different Staples locations. The thieves infected the systems with malware, and were able to access customers’ names, credit card numbers, expiration dates, and verification codes. Any purchase between August 10th and September 16th would have been affected. The breach extended to 35 states.

Staples offered any customer who shopped at Staples during the time the malware was active free credit report monitoring service. The company also reminded customers that they would not be responsible for any unauthorized charges on their card.

Credit Cards Sold on the Dark Web

Online sites like Rescator are used to sell the millions of credit cards stolen by hackers of the Home Depot and Target heists. Rescator doesn’t make it easy to determine where the stolen cards come from by mixing cards from different security breaches together.

The hackers are even sophisticated enough to find out when law enforcement officials are making card purchases and consequently stop them from doing so. That’s because purchasing a batch of credit cards is what helps the authorities figure out which company has been breached.

How You Can Protect Your Information

Cybercriminals tend to be one or two steps ahead of the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the barrier to entry is low for cybercrime. Fortunately, all is not lost. Your information can still be kept safe on the Internet with proper encryption techniques. eFileCabinet takes cybersecurity seriously, and we do everything we can to prevent data loss. While hackers might gain partial access to your documents with the use of malware, it’s impossible to decipher it quickly with current computer power. That means hackers will not be able to read any of the information stored within our document management system.

By | 2016-12-15T11:58:41+00:00 January 19th, 2016|
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