[ISN] Data-grab hackers steal credit card details in bulk

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Aug 27 2001 - 05:56:02 PDT

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    By: Guy Dennis and Edin Hamzic 
    August 26, 2001
    TENS of thousands of consumers have unknowingly had their credit card
    details intercepted by high-tech criminal gangs, a government security
    agency has revealed.
    Datastreaming, a new and fast-growing crime, involves hacking into the
    computer systems of high street retailers and stealing credit card
    details in bulk. Earlier forms of the fraud usually affected just one
    or two cardholders at a time.
    The new scam has contributed to Britain's position as the worst
    country in Europe for credit card fraud. The total lost to criminals
    last year was 300m according to the Association of Payment Clearing
    Services (Apacs), an increase of 55% on 1999. This year, it is
    expected to reach 400m.
    The National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) says the first known
    attack in Britain took place 18 months ago. Since then it has been
    notified of six other security breaches in which tens of thousands of
    card details were taken. Many more attacks have probably gone
    unreported because businesses fear customers will desert them if such
    incidents are publicised.
    In the largest reported case, several thousand credit card details
    were taken from a train operating company, said Andrew Brown, an
    intelligence officer for NCIS's counterfeit section. "It took some
    time to identify where the systems were being compromised. We watched
    the number of compromises grow because we had to identify the
    weaknesses the hackers were exploiting."
    Most banks do not inform customers when their card details are stolen
    by datastreaming. They argue that the large number taken at any one
    time means that not all will be used for fraud. Instead, banks
    compensate customers when their cards are fraudulently used.
    Britain is targeted by international gangs partly because it has the
    largest card traffic in Europe. There are 127m credit, debit and
    Cashpoint cards in circulation. Critics have accused banks and
    retailers of failing to introduce more secure systems because of the
    high cost.
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