Don't Panic Over Black Friday Security Despite Rash of Retail Breaches

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2014-11-26 Print this article Print
retail data breaches

Just because POS malware is present and an attacker has access to a network doesn't mean that consumers will lose any money. Ongoing monitoring of networks for suspicious activities can potentially detect a post-breach action, where an attacker attempts to take data out of a network.

Also, there is little incentive for an attacker to steal a single credit card; rather, the only way an attacker can make money is by stealing many cards. When the attackers (known sometimes as "carders") try to sell the credit cards in hacker forums, law enforcement is often watching.

Additionally, though there have been many retail breaches over the course of the last year, consumers are typically not liable for any of the losses or fraud. That is to say, even if a consumer's credit card is part of a breach, there is no financial loss for that individual.

That said, there are some basic consumer best practices that should be considered this Black Friday.

1. Keep all receipts: In the event there is a dispute, having a receipt can be helpful.

2. Check all statements: While credit card issuers are vigilant about looking for fraud, consumers also have a responsibility to make sure charges are accurate.

3. Use multiple cards: In the event there is fraud, one of the actions a credit card issuer may take is to block a card. If you have multiple cards and one is compromised, having another credit card will enable you to shop at another (hopefully uncompromised) retailer.

The bottom line is that risk is present and always has been in retail. In the pre-digital processing age, carbon receipts were a risk that could have enabled fraud. Even just ordering a pizza on the phone and giving your credit card number could be a path to fraud.

Vigilance has always been key to consumer safety with credit cards, and vigilance remains the watchword for Black Friday 2014 as well.

Simply stated: Don't panic.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.


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