Cyber Risk: A threat to businesses and their customers
Santa checks his list twice, and so should you. Check your lists of credit cards and debit cards expenditures monthly to verify that purchases listed are yours alone—because some security experts suggest that data breaches will get worse before they get better.
An Associated Press article blamed weak card security standards in the U.S. for making Target a “juicy target” for hackers. As many as 40 million Target customers who swiped their credit card and debit information between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 should keep a wary eye on their monthly statements. It’s unclear what data the hackers have, and the best fail-safe system is your eagle eye on your own money.
U.S. businesses and consumers are more at risk from credit card hackers than those with credit cards issued in other countries. That’s because U.S. cards still use magnetic strips on cards, which are easier to copy. Outside the U.S., digital chips have replaced magnetic strips, and these are difficult to replicate. The Insurance Information Institute has a white paper on cyber risk noting some of the recent high profile data breaches. If there is any good news in all this, it’s that these incidents increase public awareness and motivate action toward improving cyber security.
Check your credit and debit purchases regularly. And, keep in mind that a data breach doesn’t necessarily mean you are a victim of identity theft. You may get a notice from a business that data was breached, yet you may still be safe. BUT, thieves know that companies are responding faster to data breaches, and if they have your information, they may hold onto it for a while before they try to steal from you. The best defense is to stay vigilant and monitor your monthly billing statements and annual credit reports.
If you receive a security breach letter, the Identity Theft Resource Center has a fact sheet with tips of what to do next. The Federal Trade Commission also has consumer information on what to do regarding identity theft.