Target investigating Black Friday data breach of credit card info

discover ending signatures by april 2018 visa mastercard credit cards

12-19-13 UPDATE: Target has confirmed the attack, up to 40 million accounts could be at risk.

Detailed by the New York Times Bits blog, retail giant Target and federal authorities are currently looking into a security breach that potentially put millions of customer’s credit card and debit card numbers at risk. Most interestingly, the data breach didn’t involve customer data that was used to purchase products online, but rather customer data that’s gathered by the in-store point-of-sale systems. This data would likely include credit card numbers, debit card numbers, PIN numbers to access debit cards and other personal information that tied to a credit card purchase. 

According to the original report by security expert Brian Krebs, theft of the payment data started on Black Friday and continued for nearly two weeks. The data collected is also known as “track data,” basically all the information included within that magnetic stripe on your credit or debit card. Using that data, criminals can encode that information on a counterfeit card as long as it has a magnetic stripe. This allows criminals to sell the cards in batches or use the cloned cards at retailers to purchase goods. The debit cards can be used at ATMs to withdraw money, assuming the debit card pin was also collected. 

Up to this point, representatives at Target have declined to officially comment on the matter. According to a statement from an anonymous anti-fraud analyst at one of the largest credit card issuers in the United States, the period of time in which this data was continually stolen from Target continues to expand. Specifically, the analyst said “We can’t say for sure that all stores were impacted, but we do see customers all over the U.S. that were victimized.”


Assuming Target allowed personal information, like names, to be stolen along with the card numbers, the retailer has a legal obligation to notify all affected customers about the breach. Interestingly, if Target encrypted the personal information, then there’s no legal obligation to let customers know that their card numbers have been stolen. Of course, security experts recommend that all recent Target customers should keep an eye on their credit card accounts and change the pin numbers attached to their debit cards immediately.  

When asked about potential steps consumers can take to protect their personal information, ZScaler vice president Michael Sutton said “There’s not a great deal customers can do, other than take the necessary steps, like changing passwords, credit card numbers if they have been informed of a breach. Beyond that, they can take proactive steps like shopping with reputable vendors. Then again, here we are talking about one of the largest retailers in the United States. No one is immune.”

A similar data breach occurred at 63 separate Barnes & Noble stores during late October 2012. Occuring within stores in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, thieves were able to steal credit and debit card data by utilizing a compromised PIN pad device. Barnes & Noble management notified all customers of those 63 stores about the breach and recommended changing PIN numbers attached to debit cards immediately. 

Product Review

Razer just made our favorite gaming laptop even more powerful than before

The Razer Blade, our favorite gaming laptop, is now more powerful than ever before. That’s thanks to the new Nvidia RTX graphics cards inside. Do they help Razer retain its edge over the competition?

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, or S10e

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.

Marriott asking guests for data to see if they were victims of the Starwood hack

Marriott has created an online form to help you find out if your data was stolen in the massive Starwood hack that came to light toward the end of 2018. But take note, it requires you to submit a bunch of personal details.
Smart Home

Consumer groups call out retailers in a bid for better IoT security

Consumer groups posted a "Dear retailer" letter on February 12 that called out Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, and Target, shaming the companies for selling insecure smart home devices.

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.

Between Intel and AMD, these are the best gaming CPUs at every price

What are the best processors for gaming you can buy? You don't need to spend a fortune to get an amazing gaming CPU and now that AMD is competitive again, there are more choices than ever.

Our favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.

Get the best of both worlds by sharing your data on MacOS and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.

Is Ice Lake coming soon? Here's what we know about Intel's future chip design

Intel's Ice Lake may end up launching before the architecture it was supposed to replace. With hints of more announcements about the chip design in the very near future, here's everything you need to know about Ice Lake.

Apple is reportedly set to showcase a new Mac Pro at WWDC 2019 in June

Our Mac Pro 2019 rumor roundup covers all the news, leaks, and rumors about Apple's new machine, set to be announced sometime in 2019. Here's what Apple has said, what the experts think, and what we're likely to see with the new Mac Pro.

Potentially malicious WinRAR vulnerability patched after almost 20 years

WinRAR, a piece of Windows software for managing archival formats, has been harboring a vulnerability for nearly two decades, potentially allowing malicious software to insert items into a computer's startup folder without user permission.

Learn to uninstall a Steam game and clear some space on your PC

Looking to learn how to uninstall Steam games? You've come to the right place. In this guide, we walk you through the process step by step, whether you want Steam to do it for you or handle the process manually.