Cyber Threat - The Missourian: Opinion

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Cyber Threat

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Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 9:09 am

When news broke last year that cyber thieves had stolen payment card information from as many as 2.4 million Schnucks customers it hit a little too close to home.

Schnucks has operated a grocery store in Washington for years and shoppers from this area were among those whose credit and debit card information was hacked.

It’s one thing to read about cyber theft, it is an entirely different matter when you are an actual victim of it. Unfortunately, experts predict that there are going to be more victims of cyber theft in the years to come — lots more — as consumers utilize an ever-growing array of technology to transact business.

Last month, it was reported that some 40 million Target customers’ financial information, including credit card numbers, were compromised over the holiday shopping season. Last week, the company, which also operates a store in Washington, revealed that the number of consumers who could be impacted by the fraud could be as many as 110 million.

The recent thefts highlight the growing vulnerabilities in cybersecurity which is scary when you consider the millions of dollars these companies have invested in sophisticated security systems.

Part of the problem is rapid innovation. Experts say that as more and more technologies are created for consumers to interface with businesses, including mobile devices, there is a greater attack surface that thieves can exploit.

Organized crime syndicates — especially in Eastern Europe — are often responsible for the thefts but authorities say hackers are springing up everywhere to steal data. The software tools to accomplish the task are readily available on the Internet and on the black market.

The threat of hacker intrusions and cyber theft has been described as relentless and massive. It is the new frontier in criminal enterprise and it is going to get worse before it gets better.

/opinion