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Can tech make Target-type data breaches history?

Business Technology | February 25, 2014

Do you feel safe when using your credit cards at retailers? Do you feel less safe after retailer Target revealed that hackers stole the data on 40 million consumers who used their credit cards at Target stores across the nation? Here’s some good news: CBS Minnesota recently reported that new technology could make such credit-card data breaches less common.

Smart cards on the way

What would help? CBS Minnesota points to smart cards, which are already widely used throughout much of Europe. These credit cards, which store all of a consumer’s accounts on one card, make use of microchips and PINs, making them far more secure than the low-tech credit cards consumers in the United States currently use. Smart-card data breaches hardly ever happen. Unfortunately, it might still be several years before these high-tech cards get to the United States.

Who’s that masked card?

There is also what is known as masked cards, which CBS Minnesota reports are already available in the United States. Whenever consumers use one of these cards, it supplies a temporary number that cashiers type in or that consumers can use while shopping online. The temporary number then disappears once a transaction is over. Which means that hackers can’t use it, even if they steal it.

Waiting for protection

Of course, smart cards would be ideal. It might take a few more years, though, for those to show up in the country. No one knows why smart cards aren’t here already. But CBS Minnesota’s story speculates that one of the reasons might be that credit-card companies haven’t yet upgraded to the modern technology that they would require.


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