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So Much for Cyber Security

October 13, 2014

Hey, have you used a credit card lately?  Maybe to have lunch?

Dairy Queen has admitted to being hacked, six weeks after reports first surfaced that the US fast-food chain’s tills were compromised.

“We discovered evidence that the systems of some DQ locations and one Orange Julius location were infected with the widely-reported Backoff malware that is targeting retailers across the country,” the company said in a statement. “The investigation revealed that a third-party vendor’s compromised account credentials were used to access systems at those locations.”

Or maybe you needed to grab some inexpensive kitchen items for the dorm room?

Discount store Kmart admitted some customers’ payment cards have likely been “compromised” as it became the latest mega retailer to fall victim to cyber-crims.

The parent of the chain, Sears Holding Corp, said the IT team discovered late Thursday that its payment systems had been breached, and further investigations indicate this had started early last month.

Let’s not forget Home Depot, and pretty much everyone else out there that uses standard point-of-sale terminals.  Let’s face it, folks, electronic payments at retail are not secure right now.  And they probably won’t be for a while.  It’s not a bad thing that every company in the world, big or small, has access to standardized hardware and software that enables cashless transactions.  But right now, those systems are full of holes that are just being discovered and exploited, and its your convenience at risk.

Yes, convenience.  Sure, we all have to pay more because the processing companies are going to have to spend a pile more money to secure or replace systems.  It’s really the constant change of card numbers and system changes that will make life difficult for a while.  Eventually the systems will be secured against existing attacks.  And then the attackers will find new ways inside the system.  This is just another facet of the cyber war that’s ongoing, and we’re all mostly bystanders in the line of fire.

Honestly, I’ve been vectoring more to paying in cash recently, and I don’t see a real need to change that direction.  Sure, some electronic transactions still need to be made, and I’m debating just getting a simple bank card that’s linked to a small debit account.  It probably will do me a lot better in terms of budgeting, and I’m only vulnerable for a small amount over time.  That won’t keep me secure, but at least I can reduce the attack profile.  And we’ll have to start thinking that way more, since I think it’ll only be a couple years before the attacks on faceless corporations shift to attacks on specific humans on a mass scale.

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