130 Million Credit Cards

There’s an interesting news article here about someone who stole 130 million credit card numbers and was later arrested for it. The interesting points are:

  • 130 million is a large number. How many people like in your city? Or country? He operated in the USA, and I don’t have any stats on how many credit cards there are in USA but it’d be somewhere around half of all credit cards. The more you think about this the less secure you’ll feel about your own credit card number.
  • All this data was sold to hackers in various cities countries (California, Illinois, Latvia, the Netherlands and Ukraine). So even though he was arrested the data’s been compromised already.
  • There’s nothing you or I could have done to protect ourselves from people like this. He stole the numbers from businesses (such as restaurants) that store the numbers on their databases, not from people’s home computers.
  • He wasn’t a sophisticated hacker, he just looked for businesses with wireless networks and weak security (read here on how to secure a wireless network the right way) and installed malware to do the work.
    Businesses should be doing more to keep their data safe. A lot of the time they just don’t have the skills or budget to spend on network security (especially non-technology businesses such as restaurants). Yet there’s a moral obligation to do so. What can we do about that?
    You should also be watching your own credit card accounts regularly.  Internet banking makes it easy to check your account details every couple of nights from home. By doing so you’ll notice compromised accounts early and can get the card cancelled. Just make sure your computer is safe when you log onto internet banking sites (read here and here for some good tips).
    The full article on this incident is here. It’s a bit long but an interesting read.

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