Target data breach brings scary reality to the forefront

1/24/2014

It is one of those things you hope never happens to you, but you don't spend a lot of time thinking it will — until it does.

It is one of those things you hope never happens to you, but you don't spend a lot of time thinking it will — until it does.

Two of my credit card accounts were hacked because I shopped at Target.

The cards, one business and one personal, were not used. So when I received new cards in the mail with a letter of explanation, I was taken off guard.

My first thought was, did someone go shopping?

Since my wife keeps a close eye on our accounts, and she hadn't said anything looked suspicious, I felt fairly safe.

Still, it's a violation, and you wonder if it could happen again, which of course it can.

You also wonder what it takes to be safe.

According to news stories, the hackers were surprised how easily they could infiltrate Target.

Hacking is not new, so I'm not sure who was monitoring Target's security system, but they failed.

This is the world we live in. As soon as a security system is developed, someone is designing a program to get around it.

I'm one of the lucky ones, at least so far. Our accounts were not compromised, but it is still an inconvenience.

Heck, it took me the good part of an hour just to get my new cards activated.

This is the evolution of cops and robbers.

The bad guys are now technology geeks who can sit at a computer any place in the world.

Authorities believe the hackers who hit Target were from Europe.

The good guys also must be computer savvy to figure out how a system is hacked, and hopefully, by whom.

In Target's case, officials say a mistake was made by the hackers, which might help them track down the culprits, but they are saying that a year from now, this stolen information will be out on the open market causing problems for people.

There have been arrests. A couple, who bought the stolen information, were busted in Texas after going on a shopping spree to Walmart.

This is just the beginning.

People will buy the information and think they can get away with it. Some probably will.

As much as technology has become a way of life, the opportunities always will be there for our personal information and finances to be stolen.

We're not going backwards. We're not going to stop using computers, shopping online, or doing our banking online.

So where do we go from here?

Be more vigilant. Secure passwords will help, so will making sure you check your accounts regularly.

None of this will ensure our information won't be stolen, especially when you trust an institution to keep it private and they fail.

There is no way to stop someone from committing a crime. Sometimes all you can do is hope the cops are keeping up with the robbers.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.

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