I have traveled all over the world, and I have seen plenty of poor security in airports. But people still travel by air - statistically, you are less likely to get in an accident while flying. Some people apply that same logic to using their credit cards over the Internet: I have had consumers tell me that a credit card breach online is less likely than a security breach at a department store. I feel it is my responsibility to tell them that they are way off on that line of thinking.
Identity theft can happen online or offline. If the credit card security of a store is compromised offline, then it could very well be compromised online as well. There are a lot of lessons consumers and companies can learn from the worst credit card breach incidents of 2013.
Target Retail Stores
The most publicized security breach of 2013 was the breach of the Target credit card database. The experts are still trying to add up the numbers, but it is estimated that nearly 40 million consumers were affected by this credit card security incident. The heat from this is so intense that longtime Target CIO Beth Jacob resigned as a result of what happened. One of the reasons that this particular incident was so memorable is that it hit right in the middle of the 2013 holiday shopping season, at a time when consumers and retailers are most vulnerable to an attack.
Neiman Marcus Stores
Internet security incidents can make consumers feel violated, especially when the fraud goes on for a while. In 2013, it was reported that approximately 1.1 million credit card accounts on the Neiman Marcus retail store network had been breached. The worst part is that experts are saying that the breach existed for several months before anyone caught it. In a day and age when identity theft is a stark reality, the thought of a criminal flipping through credit accounts for months can be terrifying.
The Social Media Breach
Just about everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, Google, or some kind of social network. That is why the 2013 breach of nearly two million account usernames and passwords is so significant. Why would a social media breach be a problem for consumers? Because a criminal can use your account to disseminate a virus that could find its way onto your computer and catalog all of your important financial information as you use it. Also, personal information found on your social media account and the password for your account could be used to steal other information that could lead to identity theft.
The Adobe Breach
In an ironic twist that does not have Adobe executives laughing, the Internet security giant was hacked to the tune of 150 million usernames and passwords from users all over the world. The hackers even managed to post segments of Adobe security code on message boards to prove that they had gotten into what many consumers considered to be the most secure servers in the world.
The Last Word
A security breach can happen to any server at any time. The best way to protect yourself is to make sure that your bank has a reliable warning system in place and keep a close eye on the activity on your credit cards and in your personal credit profile.