While data breaches are nothing new to retail stores–both in-store and online–the last couple years have hit some shoppers hard with numerous breaches in which hackers have gotten ahold of not just credit card information, but also people’s home addresses, social security numbers, and more.

In 2014, Home Depot and Target shoppers, among others, found themselves with extra charges on their credit cards that were not their own. Many people didn’t even know about the security breaches until they got a letter from their bank or credit card company telling them a new card was on the way because they made a purchase during this time. Fortunately, more and more people are learning about the importance of virtualization security and cloud backup software.

Data Breaches

How Breaches Happen

While you probably already know better than to send something in the mail with your credit card number written on it, or to give your number to someone over the phone. Cell phone usage has made it even easier for information to get filtrated by crooks. But with so many doing their shopping online you would hope your info would be safe there.

Breaches happen easily online, and you also run into the phishing emails that try to get information out of you. People learn to watch what they click. Even a virus on your personal computer can steal saved information you’ve saved in your computer.

The worst thing is that even shopping at stores, or pumping gas at the gas station, can risk your credit. All over the US and beyond credit card skimmers are being put into gas station pumps, and sometimes even ATM machines, in which scammers steal people’s credit and debit info and pin numbers.

Store hacks happen through malware and viruses, just like on your home computer. You would hope that large businesses and corporations would have great security set up to protect shoppers information, but hackers find a way to get around that.

Some Recent Data Breaches In The Last Two Years

  • Target — Malware was installed to the point-of-sale (POS) terminals, cash registers. The hackers gained access by using credentials they stole from a contractor. It happened between Nov 27, 2013 to Dec 15, 2013, and gave hackers access to credit and debit card numbers, PINs, names, email and mailing addresses. Target is offered one year of free credit monitoring, tell help affected customers, via Experian. Up to 70 million customers were affected by this breach.
  • Neiman Marcus — There was malware installed on POS terminals, and the hackers named it almost the same as the payment software, allowing it to go undetected for some time. This breach lasted from July 16, 2013 to Oct. 30, 2013, allowing hackers to get credit and debit card numbers. 9,200 of them were known to have been used fraudulently. They offered one year of Experian protection to shoppers that were affected.
  • Michaels — Malware was placed on their POS, and even their subsidiary Aaron Brothers, which caused the breach of up to 2.6 million cards. Hackers took debit and credit card numbers, and their expiration dates. This happened between the dates of May 8, 2013 and Jan. 27, 2014. The company offered free credit monitoring and identity protection through AllClear ID for affected customers.

What Businesses Are Doing To Stop This

With all of the recent breaches from the last couple years most retailers are adopting a more secure system called ‘chip-and-pin.’ These new credit and debit cards have an embedded microchip making it harder for them to be breached. It’s a system that has already been widely used in Europe.

Both stores and banks are working harder to protect their clients and shoppers by adding more malware and anti-virus protection to their systems and paying more attention to daily access on their POS systems so that breaches can be caught much quicker. When these breaches are noticed, cards become cancelled much more quickly before attacks on bank and credit accounts can occur.

Many businesses are opting for cloud security, or the aforementioned virtualization security, which continuously runs in the background on your system, providing extra protection. Your business can rest assured that you are doing what you need by having security and keeping an eye on the system for early fraud detection.

Sometimes, even when cards are breached no fraudulent charges happen. But getting a new card immediately allows for peace of mind nonetheless. Better safe than sorry!