Tags: cyber | attack | stores | Target

NBC News: Target-Style Cyber Thefts Are Spreading to Main Street Stores

By John Morgan   |   Thursday, 30 Jan 2014 03:45 PM

Consumers are focused on massive cyber thefts aimed at big retailers like Target, but the real security problems to be wary of are at small and medium-sized businesses with fewer digital defenses, NBC News reported.

Small businesses are especially vulnerable because they spend far less money to protect their information, including customer accounts, and digital infrastructure. Security software firm Symantec estimated that in 2013, 31 percent of all cyber attacks were aimed at companies with less than 250 employees.

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“It’s not happening with any lower frequency than the Targets you’re reading about,” said John Rose, a senior partner at The Boston Consulting Group.

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance and Symantec, about 77 percent of small companies believe their company is protected from a cyber-attack, and yet 83 percent of them do not even have a written security policy. NBC News reported that the consequences can be much more catastrophic for a smaller firm than for big retailers like Target.

As time goes on, data breaches and concerns about digital privacy are forcing consumers to put more emphasis on companies that protect their personal data, the network said. It concluded the degree to which companies keep their data secure could be added to the same checklist for customers as price and product quality.

“What’s at stake is you will switch retailers, you will switch banks, switch credit card providers” to achieve protection, Rose predicted.

Credit Union Times reported the FBI is warning retailers that more cyber crooks are expected to try to steal their credit card and debit card information at the point of sale.

“As the [Department of Homeland Security] report suggests, the growing popularity of this type of malware, the accessibility of the malware on underground forums, the affordability of the software and the huge potential profits to be made from retail POS systems in the United States make this type of financially-motivated cyber crime attractive to a wide range of actors,” a report from the FBI's Cyber Division said.

The FBI said it discovered about 20 incidents over the past year in which software designed to steal card numbers had been introduced onto the POS terminals of U.S. retailers. The software has been seen on sale in “underground criminal forums” for as little as $6,000, the agency said.

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