FBI: Era of Big Data = Era of Big Data Thefts

The hacking of Target servers to obtain millions of passwords and credit card numbers may have been the most successful data breach in U.S. history, but the worst may be yet to come, warns the FBI.

The nation's top law enforcement agency is warning companies that deal with massive amounts of consumer data that cybercrime is on the rise, citing some 20 attacks on big companies in the past year. Target saw more than 40 million credit and debit card records affected during the holiday shopping season by its breach, and the personal information of 70 million customers was also compromised. Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus announced this week that 1.1 million of its customer accounts were compromised by hackers in the middle of last year.

Just Scraping the Surface

A Jan. 17 report sent to big data companies, "Recent Cyber Intrusion Events Directed Toward Retail Firms," was obtained by Reuters news service. It warns that the attacks involve RAM scraping at the point of service (POS), in which data from the magnetic card swipers at stores can be stolen during the brief time the data is in a computer system's memory before it is encrypted.

"The accessibility of the malware on underground forums, the affordability of the software and the huge potential profits to be made from retail POS systems in the United States make this type of financially motivated cyber crime attractive to a wide range of actors," the FBI warned in the report, as quoted by Reuters.

Calls to the FBI's New York media office regarding the report were not returned in time for publication.

Crime targeting big data is expected to be a major issue of 2014, and not only in the United States. Germany recently saw a major e-mail breach and South Korea saw a counterfeit credit card scheme affecting some 60...

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