With an increased reliance on technology and convenience, consumers pave road for hackers

6:44 PM, Dec 20, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- When more than 40 million customer credit cards are compromised, as in the recent situation retail giant Target finds itself in, people will take notice.

But security breaches by hackers happen much more than you probably hear about.

"I know this is getting a lot of attention because Target was such a large breach, but this kind of fraud, credit card theft happens a lot," said Tiffany Rad, a senior security analyst with Kaspersky Labs. 

The numbers are in the favor of the hackers.

"A hacker can try 1,000 times and fail every time but one and they're in," explained Mark Rasch, a cyber security expert.

There are many ways to get in. When you use your credit card, the online highway that it travels can be a long one. From when you scan it at checkout, to the third party transfer of your financial information, to when it reaches it's final destination at a store's database, there are many points of access for hackers.

Spam, malware, infectious worms -- hackers use sophisticated viruses to break in to networks as they hope to capitalize on a weak moment.

"All they have to do is trick one person with access to give them access and then they have access to the whole network," said Rasch.

Is anything safe?

"In the computer security industry what we call this is the internet of things. As we have cars and thermostats and washing machines even that are connected to the internet, consumers will perhaps become more aware of what they're using, how they're using their phones and these types of electronic devices," said Rad.

She points out that there's a trade off: more consumer conveniences means less security. 

With more things to hack into, Rad said companies will have to step up security - from their online networks to the products they design. - and consumers have to become more security savvy because that's exactly what hackers are doing.

Rasch added, "It's like a cat and mouse game. The more you clamp down, the more clever the hacker gets."

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