“You could sit at home, and do like absolutely nothing, and your name goes through like 17 computers a day.” That’s one of my favorite lines from the cult classic movie Hackers and it’s a bit mind boggling that, today, your name probably passes through far more than just 17 computers.
And it’s not just our names passing through computers. We’re also making payments online, in retail stores using new gadgets like the Apple Watch, and from our phones with apps. Our credit card numbers are passing back and forth through computers around the world, and more often than ever before.
That connectivity and, ultimately, that convenience, can sometimes come back to bite you. What happens when a retailer you trust gets hacked, and your data ends in the hands of a hacker on the other side of the world? Or what happens when you use an ATM only to find out that your credit card information has been skimmed?
We reached out to an expert to find out what sorts of scams can leave you at risk, what to do if your credit card ever is stolen, and to discuss the best practices for keeping yourself safe.
Your credit card doesn’t just mysteriously end up in the hands of hackers, even if it might seem that way sometimes. Instead, it often winds up in bad places — or the “dark web” — as a result of a coordinated attack or a scam.
There are a few ways hackers can get your credit card information, and Jason Glassberg, co-founder and managing principal of Casaba Security walked us through a few of the most popular scams.
“Thieves sometimes use skimmers, which are card readers on top of card readers,” Glassberg explained. “So you think you’re putting your card in an ATM, but it’s first passing through a skimmer that’s reading the magnetic strip and collecting your credit card number.” Glassberg said skimmers can take many forms, but the most popular are clipped right over the reader on an ATM, or in a point of sale machine at a retailer.
“Thieves can also attack back-end systems like they did with Target and Home Depot,” Glassberg said, referencing major breaches at both retailers. The most popular way hackers get credit card information is through online scams, Glassberg said. “Getting malware installed on your computer, which captures keystrokes and knows when you’re entering in credit card numbers,” is one danger noted by the expert.
“Being sent to a malicious site that has hijacked a legit site” and tricks a user into entering his or her credit card data is another popular method. That malicious fake site is often used as part of larger and popular phishing schemes.