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Over 1,000 US Retailers Possible Hacking Victims
By: Jennifer Graber
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This year has certainly been the year of the hacker. Headline after headline seems to proclaim yet another instance where some computer system was hacked into. Just recently, there were StubHub and Target — just to name a couple. Oh, and then there was that little thing about Internet Explorer having security holes. And now there is one more hacking to add to the list. The Department of Homeland Security said that more than 1,000 retailers in the United States could be affected by malware. This, in turn, leads to the possibility that millions of credit cards might be at risk for data exposure.
 
Evidently, in October of 2013, government agencies discovered the malware that has caused this recent data risk. However, the malware, dubbed “Backoff,” did not cause any red flags with antivirus software until earlier this month. At that time the government asked retailers to look for the malware in their point-of-sale systems. Only a couple of retailers have come forward saying that their point-of-sale systems have been infected by the malware, including UPS. UPS says approximately 51 stores have been found to have the “Backoff” malware. However, the company also claims that data exposure was not a concern as it was believed that customer information was not revealed.  
 
UPS may be lucky in the case of the “Backoff” malware, and let’s hope it stays that way. But thousands more retailers could be at risk and not know it or be sharing it. That thought is quite alarming. It is also slightly concerning that hackers are creating these issues on a much larger scale. According to tech experts, hackers realized being choosy with malware distribution allows for flying under the radar for far longer. Additionally, hackers are becoming “increasingly sophisticated about identifying high-value computer systems.” Again, these are startling thoughts to consider.
 
Internet and data safety seem to be increasingly at risk, especially with all the exciting new ways technology is evolving. We can’t live without technology, and honestly, why would we want to? But is it worth it? Are we putting ourselves up for data exposure just by using these digital means? And should we revert back to old-school ways of doing business?
 
We’re probably a far cry from burying our money in mason jars in the backyard and dealing with cash only, but it is clear that something needs to be done. At this point in time we can’t get away without having a credit card, so what can be done? And how much responsibility lies in the hands of the credit card companies, retailers, government, and so forth? It won’t be long before getting a new credit card will be more about security and protection rather than rewards or points. And shopping will be more about finding a retailer who details how it protects its customers instead of prices. And we’ll be calling out the government for not saying anything sooner about data exposure.
 
Being better informed will help us all — consumers and retailers. Knowledge of these large hacks will give retailers the tools and ability to be more prepared to combat attacks. Or, here’s hoping!


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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