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Harder to Stay Safe Online These Days

Ken Melvoin-Berg, a Chicago-based TV producer, said his Xbox account was hacked on Christmas day of 2013.

“My kids didn’t even get their Xbox game gift for Christmas Day,” Berg said. “The awful part was that I put in a $200 credit on my card for the kids to buy Xbox games online. The fraud emptied the credit and my bank account.”

Berg said he had to change his passwords and got a better security system. Fortunately, the bank caught the hackers and arrested them. They stole over $1,000 from Xbox customers, according to Berg.
home depot teaching kids to build
Berg is one of many consumers who have recently found themselves the victims of online hackers. Last year, hackers broke into Target’s credit system, stealing customers’ PINs as well as credit card numbers, expiration dates and other information. Home Depot, Gmail and iCloud have also been victimized by hackers.

According to Home Depot Inc. in a September 18th press release, 56 million payment cards were likely stolen in a data breach between April and September at its stores in America and Canada. In the press release, Home Depot said the malware that caused the breach has been eliminated from its U.S. and Canadian networks. The company also said it had completed a major payment security project that provides enhanced encryption of payment data in the company’s U.S. stores.

On September 29, the grocery chain, Jewel-Osco, acknowledged in a press release, “an unlawful intrusion” to obtain credit and debit card information.

Computer hackers have struck not only retail companies, but also celebrities. NBC said nude photos of 26 international celebrities were made public by hackers who gained access to them on iCloud. Actress Jennifer Lawrence said she had deleted the photos on her cell phone, but they continued to exist on iCloud.

Some experts offer advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of hackers.

“It’s safer to use credit cards for your online or non-cash purchases,” said Jacob Furst, associate professor of DePaul University’s IT department. “They have more legal safeguards than debit cards.”

What is the CSC code    PayPalEven though credit card numbers can be used  illegally, keeping the three-digit CSC number on the back of the card out of the hands of hackers or criminals is important, said Furst. One easy way that criminals get a person’s CSC number is by email phishing. When consumers make on-line purchases, they have to provide the CSC number, which is how online hackers find the numbers. Sometimes people fall for the scams and give up their CSC number if they believe a bank is contacting them or if they are convinced they will win money or prizes.

Furst said if hackers successfully get access to a store’s database or transaction center, they can record the CSC numbers as they are supplied even if the store doesn’t save those numbers. Stores don’t log activity on specific accounts but they log activities such as access to the database.

[pullquote]A card security code (CSC), sometimes called card verification data (CVD), card verification number (CVN), card verification value (CVV or CVV2), card verification value code (CVVC), card verification code (CVC or CVC2),verification code (V-code or V code), card code verification (CCV),[1] or signature panel code (SPC)[2] are different terms for a security feature for “card not presentpayment card transactions instituted to reduce the incidence of credit card fraud, according to Wikipedia.[/pullquote]

Cash is still the most secure way of doing business, but if consumers do use debit card transactions, they can change their password often. They are advised to check both credit card and debit card transactions on monthly statements to be certain the account hasn’t been hacked.

Having a card number stolen is one way online security breaches cause problems in people’s personal lives. Having their social media hacked also affects them.

Facebook is one of the most common databases containing information about an individual’s life and character. Having a Facebook account hacked may not cost money, but it can affect people’s relationships and job prospects. Rachel Hurst, a Chicago fashion designer, model and Chicago Public School teacher, said her Facebook account was hacked by her supervisor and coworkers.

“[They] used my company’s IT department to obtain login data for my Facebook account and changed all of my personal data,” she said.

Hurst said rumors and lies put on the page could harm her career as a school teacher. She was not comfortable that coworkers spied on her illegally and talked about her behind her back. Being hacked at work created a hostile work environment, Hurst added.

Michael Martire, a technology specialist at an Apple store, said technology is built by humans and so are all the security features, so anything that can be built can be hacked.

[pullquote]“There is no such thing as a flawless system,” Martire said.[/pullquote]

He said the way to prevent attacks is to have a team in place that is always debugging and looking for errors. When building these systems and technologies it is good to have it built upon many people’s logic instead of only one person, Martire said.

If the system does get hacked, the hacker has to figure out different people’s coding patterns.
“Nothing is ever 100 percent safe.” Martire said.

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