As one of the last countries still using traditional magnetic strip credit/debit cards, highly sought after U.S. consumer data has revealed itself to be extremely vulnerable to hackers. Due to the compounding commercial business breaches that have exposed companies and their customers, hackers now have unimpeded access to private financial information. Millions of Americans, through their day-to-day purchases, have offered themselves as prey to hackers and credit card fraud.
[new graph] Recently, breaches at Target, Home Depot, and Chick-fil-A have put pressure on small, mid-size and large businesses involved in transactions with customers to upgrade their credit card processing software to protect themselves and their clients from theft and fraud. The responsibility to protect this information relies entirely on the business in which these customers make their transactions. In Target's case, banks and financial firms are pursuing legal action on the grounds that Target did not have a sophisticated system to prevent such a breach and did not take breach alerts seriously when notified. Not having an effective defense system may become a very expensive liability for businesses.
According to a Senior Analyst at Tripwire Inc, credit card information once obtained through a hacked purchase, such as the 40 million that occurred with Target, are then sold online to "carders" who transfer the credit to pre-paid cards. The process then continues, drawing the stolen information further and further away from traceability. These pre-paid cards are then used to buy gift cards, Amazon being popular among them, used to purchase further goods on the internet. Once the goods are purchased, it is nearly impossible for authorities to trace these hackers.
Whether online or in person, debit and credit cards are American's preferred method of payment, although alternatives are currently being developed. For the time being businesses need to understand their protective systems and make updates where necessary. 911 Software, Inc. is highly committed to client cyber security using advanced sophisticated methods of defense.