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Learn the facts about the recent Target breach

keeping up with technology


By BC EagleTech Ellen Contois

In mid-December, news broke that Target was involved in a major data breach that involved millions of data and credit card records. Hackers were able to access customer names, credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, security codes, and even encrypted PIN numbers. In early January, Target revealed that the names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses had also been stolen. The total number of people affected could be as high as 110 million.

The authorities have been working dilligently to find information on the hackers and they have since linked the stolen data to sources in Russia and Mexico. Reports last week identified a 17-year-old from St. Petersburg, Russia as the architect of the malware that caused the breach but other reports suggest that he was acting as an accomplice for another hacker. The mastermind behind this scam is still unconfirmed although various sources have been pinpointing alleged collaborators.

The data breach is being called the second largest cyber attack in history, behind the Heartland Payment Systems dilemma of 2009. Target has been urging customers who shopped in its stores between November 27-December 15, 2013 to check their credit and debit card activity for suspicious purchases. Online orders were not affected by the breach. The primary risk is increased exposure to consumer scams, which include phishing, web scams and social engineering. There have been increased reports of phishing in the form of e-mails, text, fake websites and phone calls designed to steal personal information from Target customers.

In addition to monitoring credit and debit card statements, Target directs affected customers to contact their issuing bank to resolve the misuse of funds. They are also offering one year of free credit monitoring to all customers who shopped in U.S. stores. In the aftermath of this incident, Target is especially urging customers to be wary of further phishing scams that appear to offer protection but are really trying to steal personal information.