Monday, January 27, 2014

FBI Warns Retailers of The Likelihood of More Credit Card Attacks

Following reports of targeted attacks on retailers and the theft of personal information from customers, the FBI has released a statement warning retailers of the potential for future attacks, as well as the increased trend in malware affecting POS (Point of Sale) machines such as cash registers and credit card swiping devices.

According to Reuters, which initially obtained the report, there have been about 20 hacking cases in the past year that involved the same kind of malicious software similar to that used against Target stores over the past holiday shopping season. This high number of reported attacks not only has the FBI on alert and leads them to believe that "POS malware crime will continue to grow over the near term, despite law enforcement and security firms' actions to mitigate it".

In their 3 page report they also made note of the availability of malware on "underground forums" as well as the large potential for profits to be made from POS attacks, as warnings to the retailers in an attempt to get them to tighten up security. The report was dated January 17 and entitled "Recent Cyber Intrusion Events Directed Toward Retail Firms." A spokeswoman for the FBI confirmed the agency had issued the report as part of efforts to share information about threats with the private sector.

The vice president of the National Retail Federation, the world's largest retail trade association, stated that "Retailers have been and remain vigilant in their efforts to provide the highest level of security for their data systems in order to protect against malicious and criminal acts. As the criminal investigation continues and more information becomes available, you can be sure that the retail industry will be responsive and engaged to ensure this particular cyber-attack does not happen again."

Only time will tell, however, exactly how proactive these retailers will be in protecting their customers' personal information. One thing is clear: retailers need to move quickly to get better tools in their networks that can analyze traffic patterns on the fly and identify any unusual activity, said another expert in retail security, who has audited POS systems to find vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.

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