Credit Card System: Fail

As we head into the holiday shopping season, one thing that everyone is looking forward to is the flash of plastic sliding out of wallets all across America. It’s the make or break time for retailers everywhere and season for dedicated shoppers to show their prowess for hunting down bargains. All of it is fueled by credit cards, both online and in person.

But before you whip out the card is there someone waiting to give the term “swipe a card” a different meaning? You may think you can trust a retailer, but can you be sure that they aren’t already a victim of a hacker? The short answer is no, you can’t be sure of anything this year. And a series of high profile hacks throughout 2014 have shown us that the entire credit card system needs to be judged as insecure by everyone.

And hardly anyone in the mainstream media is talking in these terms, probably to avoid the reasonable panic that would ensue.

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A Big Fat Target

Target corporation is the victim of the biggest credit card security breach to date, affecting up to 110M cards. That’s an amazing statistic by itself, but the problem is even worse – it remains unclear exactly what happened or if other companies are themselves targets of the same thieves.

But that is only to be expected in a system that is only as secure as the weakest link – and the potential gain by hacking it is nearly unlimited money. There is little doubt that even before we learn exactly what happened at Target it will happen again, on scales both large and small.

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