Recent charges against five alleged cyber criminals in the US reveals just how deep and serious the threat is to your personal information. About 160 million credit and debit card details were stolen and hundreds of millions of dollars are estimated to have been lost.
This is just the latest chapter in a continuing and relentless string of cyber attacks. The list of companies who were hacked reads like a who’s who of well-known organisations;
Nasdaq and Dow Jones stock markets, 7-Eleven, Carrefour, Jet Blue Airways, Dexia Bank in Belgium and so on.
There are also a couple of companies that you may not have heard of, but perhaps you should because they hold millions of credit card details, possible including yours; UK-based Commidea and US Heartland Payment Systems. They both process card payments.
As the charges were laid against the hackers it was revealed that Commidea lost about 30 million credit and debit card numbers and Heartland about 130 million card numbers. It’s alleged these were sold on Internet sites to other criminals.
These figures are alarming and on their own ought to propel people into taking protective action. But perhaps another cause for concern is what goes on below the surface that we’re not aware of.
Your computer, for example, is being constantly probed by automated searches set in motion by hackers. These probes roam across networks searching for vulnerabilities in firewalls or whether a computer even has a firewall!
Banks are also constantly being attacked. Most of these don’t get through because from bland and anonymous buildings - many of which have sheets of lead in the walls to protect against wireless hackers - the banks are monitoring their network defences and stopping any attack in their tracks.
However, some attacks do succeed, but nobody is going to tell you unless the perps are caught and end up in a court of law. But imagine what the implications would be if you did find out about every successful attack?
The foundation of any bank is security – it protects your money. If a bank admitted that its systems were occasionally breached how would you feel? But it’s actually a bit of an industry. You’d probably consider moving your money. Financial institutions understand this hence they impose what they see as a necessary silence. Ask anybody who is responsible for IT security in a bank how many sleepless nights they have. It’s probably quite a few.
This is not scaremongering. Systems are breached often enough to cause alarm (more on this in later blogs). The five people charged by the US authorities, allegedly sold the details they hacked on the internet. This information was then used to withdraw cash from ATMs or buy goods.
BullGuard Identity Protection safeguards you against this. If your details are hacked from a system and offered for sale on the Internet, we detect it and notify you, so you can take action. It’s a real and serious threat and one you need to guard against. If you’ve got any stories about hacking we’d love to hear from you.