Security Breaches Affecting Millions

Rachel Pukall

rpuka198@uwsp.edu

Millions of Target customers have been affected by hackers who stole credit and debit card information during the 2013 holiday season.

The recent theft is one of the largest ever reported. Major retailer computer systems were broken into by a hacker who obtained access to credit and debit card terminals.

Customers who shopped at Target and used a card to make a purchase were exposed to the possibility of having their name, card numbers, expiration dates and security codes stolen.

“There was some criminal intelligence that figured out how to crack security codes,” said Crystal Wood, an employee at Target and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point art student. “This intelligence was able to breach not only account information, but personal identity information as well.”

Target suggests that anyone who shopped in their stores from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15 should keep an eye on their accounts for unusual activity.

Photo courtesy of flickr.com Target discovered a breach in their system in December of 2013.

Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Target discovered a breach in their system in December of 2013.

If anything has been compromised, customers should call their bank immediately or contact Target if they shopped with their Target Redcard. Purchases that were made online were not affected.

“We’ve been told at this point that our security is now stable and we should be safe to sign-up or use cards,” Wood said. “If you want to be extra careful, you can call about your card and either change your pin or order a new card.”

Target is not the only company that is dealing with internet security breaches.

“Not only have they hit Target, but there are other companies being hit all over the world,” Wood said. “I think it’s a horrible thing, but in this day and age we have to realize that we are all vulnerable through technology, but there are certain precautions we can take.”

Snapchat, a photo messaging application designed for smart phones, is just one of the other companies that has been compromised.

Hackers have acquired the account information of millions of users from the perishable photos app, making names and phone numbers available to download.

“It makes me angry to hear about all these poor ethics and injustices,” Wood said. “I feel that is a more personal app and not much intention of business work.”

UWSP senior Danielle Arndt is a daily Snapchat user and agrees that the smartphone app should be of no one else’s business.

“I feel like Snapchat is a private thing and if people were able to hack into it, it makes me wonder what else they are capable of,” Arndt said. “It’s scary to think that just about nothing is really private anymore.”

The hackers established a website and created a database of information. In a statement to the technology blog TechCrunch, the hackers said that they blurred out the last two numbers of each phone number but were considering making the whole thing visible.

“It’s one thing to have been given such intelligence, but to use it for such wrong purposes sucks,” Wood said. “Honestly, I don’t completely know what to think. I feel like there is a balance and it has been tipped way off.”

When it comes to internet security and privacy, most people agree that there should be more of it. Wood says that she does not feel safe when using the internet or other technological devices, but in order to connect and function in today’s society, that technology is often needed.

“Personally, I hate how dependent I have to be on technology,” Wood said. “I can’t get a degree without using technology, I can’t pass school, and I can’t get into contact with anyone. I don’t believe it is good to be so dependent on such things.”

Wood feels like there should be more privacy when it comes to recent technology and that it could also offer more job opportunities.

Wood said there is an appropriate quote that sums up this situation well. “Sometimes we try to protect something so much we become the destruction.”

 

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