What Happens to Stolen Credit Card Data?

Credit Cards - 1By Scott Aurnou

Reports of high profile data breaches have been hard to miss over the past year. Most recently, it was a breach involving 56 million customers’ personal and credit card information at Home Depot over a five-month period.

This is just the latest volley in a wave of sophisticated high profile electronic thefts including Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, P.F. Chang’s and Supervalu. Much like the other attacks, the suspected culprit in the Home Depot data breach is a type of malware called a RAM scraper that effectively steals card data while it’s briefly unencrypted at the point of sale (POS) in order to authorize a given transaction. Reports of this type of attack have become increasingly common in the months since the Target breach.

Whether it’s a RAM scraper or an “older” threat like a physical skimmer placed directly on a POS machine used to swipe a credit or debit card, phishing attack or simply storing customers’ card information insecurely, the result is the same: credit card data for millions of people winds up in the hands of criminals eager to sell it for profit. How does that process unfold? And how can you – or people you know – get sucked into it?

The Basic Process: The journey from initial credit card data theft to fraudulent use of that data to steal goods from other retailers involves multiple layers of transactions. The actual thief taking the card numbers from the victim business’ POS or database doesn’t use it him or herself.
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Posted in Fraud & Scams, Privacy Issues

Are You Giving Away Your Location When You Post Photos Online?


Computer Security Tip of the Week

Scott Aurnou – Many modern cameras and smartphones include location data when taking photos and, when those photos are then uploaded to the Net, that information goes with it. This can include personal photos, shots of your kids, etc. What steps can you take to control (or eliminate) that location data?

Websites referenced in this video include:
Ver EXIF

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Posted in Fraud & Scams, Privacy Issues, Security Tip of the Week, Smartphones & Tablets

Cyber Risk: Are You the Weak Link?

Are you the weakest link?By Scott Aurnou

In 2012, a young scam artist based in Asia posing as a private investigator simply purchased the personal information for more than 200 million users directly from credit reporting giant Experian and then posted it for sale online. The only reason we know about the incident is that the U.S. Secret Service caught it. Experian didn’t.

Cyber criminals know that the weakest link in most computer networks is the people using it. Verizon’s highly respected Data Breach Investigations Report has repeatedly noted that most attacks start with employees. Attackers use “social engineering” to trick their victims into allowing unauthorized system access, data theft and even specialized stealthy attacks used to quietly steal massive amounts of sensitive data over time. These attacks frequently exploit our natural tendency to want to help others. They can be in person, electronic or over the telephone, and there are a variety of ways they can be used to take advantage of you:

“Phishing” attacks are designed to steal your personal, financial or log-in information through an email, text message (referred to as “smishing”) or even an automated phone call (“vishing”). The attacks often appear to come from well-known and trusted companies like banks, airlines or industry groups and contain attachments or links to websites that look legitimate but are really there to steal account log-in information or host malware ready to attack the recipient’s computer as soon as he clicks on any of the links. These emails and messages can also be used to lure victims into contact with scam artists posing as potential clients or officials offering to release substantial funds if only the target would be so kind as to hand over detailed personal information or a sum up front.
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Posted in Fraud & Scams

How Effective Are Biometric Security Measures?


Computer Security Tip of the Week

Scott Aurnou – Biometric security measures like fingerprint scanners have been incorporated into a few products recently, but do they provide effective protection or are they more of a novelty at this point?

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Posted in Laptops & Desktops, Network Security, Security Tip of the Week, Smartphones & Tablets

Lawyers and Email: Ethical & Security Considerations

Secure EmailBy Scott Aurnou

The specter of attorney-client privilege has a long and well-respected history in litigation… but means nothing at all to a hacker. “Delete this email if you are not the intended recipient” or similar language theoretically sounds imposing, but essentially does nothing to protect firm or client data from any nefarious actors who view it (though they may get a good chuckle before reading the “forbidden” email).

In May 2014, LexisNexis published a study pertaining to law firm security awareness versus actual practices with respect to communications and file sharing with clients. Almost 90% of those surveyed used email to communicate with clients and privileged third parties. The vast majority of attorneys surveyed also acknowledged the increasingly important role of various file sharing services and the inherent risk of someone other than a client or privileged third party gaining access to shared documents. Yet only 22% used encrypted email and 13% use secure file sharing sites, while 77% of firms relied upon the effectively worthless “confidentiality statements” within the body of emails to secure them.
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Posted in Cloud Security, Laptops & Desktops, Network Security, Privacy Issues, Smartphones & Tablets
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