Hacking Causes Huge Hassle

By Carl Huber.

Target remains busy even after hacking.  Photo by Carl Huber
Target remains busy even after hacking.
Photo by Carl Huber

Hacking has become a problem for companies and customers over the last few years because there are more hackers attempting to steal information.

Many computer systems, games, and smartphone apps are vulnerable to being hacked. The information people provide to the virtual world might possibly be seen by others. Hackers are continuing to find more ways to steal private information. One of the most recent occurrences of hacking was the national retail store Target.

About 40 million Target customers were affected by a breach in the company’s security during the 2013 holiday shopping season, lasting from November 27 to December 15. The hack attacked Target stores throughout the nation and was one of the largest American consumer data breaches ever.

Target reported that the leaked information included customer names, card numbers, expiration dates and CVVs (Card Verification Values). This information is exactly what an attacker would need to create a counterfeit card.

According to Krebs on Security (blog by former Washington Post reporter Brian Krebs), it was later found that the data breach also exposed nearly 70 million customers’ mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

In an interview with NBC News, the company said, “As part of Target’s ongoing forensic investigation, it has been determined that certain guest information — separate from the payment card data previously disclosed — was taken during the data breach.”

Target is not trying to hide from the fact that they were hacked.

“Target’s first priority is preserving the trust of our guests and we have moved swiftly to address this issue, so guests can shop with confidence,” Target’s president/CEO Gregg Steinhafel said to NBC News.

“We take this matter very seriously and are working with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice,” said Steinhafel.

Only a few weeks after the Target breach, the smartphone app Snapchat was hacked and user information was leaked.

According to Fox News, the hack exposed about 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers of Snapchat users. This breach in security occurred just before the New Year of 2014. Gibson Security warned Snapchat in August and again on December 25 regarding the app’s vulnerability.

“They ignored a responsible report by security researchers,” said Gibson Security.

Snapchat said that the app’s update would allow its users to decide whether or not they want to use the “Find Friends” feature. This feature seemed to be the source of the problem and opting out of it could prevent the users’ information from being leaked in the future. Snapchat is continuing to work on creating a more secure version of the app.

“We recently added additional counter-measures and continue to make improvements to combatspam and abuse,” Snapchat said.

A website (http://lookup.gibsonsec.org/) was created by Gibson Security to allow Snapchat users to determine whether their information was leaked.

“Be careful about what data you give away to sites when you sign up — if you don’t think a service requires your phone number, don’t give it to them,” said Gibson.

For those who are unfamiliar with the app, Snapchat is a messaging service that continues to grow in popularity among teenagers. Much of its success is due to the fact that it allows users to send a quick photo and message that can only be seen by the recipient for up to 10 seconds before being deleted.

Snapchat also had issues last year when it was discovered that the self-destructing photos are not actually deleted from the mobile device.

Digital forensics examiner Richard Hickman discovered in the spring of 2013 that Snapchat actually saves the photos received onto the phone. Although the pictures are on the device, they are extremely difficult to locate. Hickman first discovered how to find saved Snapchat pictures on the Android. He is sure that they are saved on the iOS as well, but he is still working on locating them.

Target and Snapchat are both bouncing back from being hacked and it seems the companies haven’t been tremendously hurt. However, with hacking being a common occurrence, people should be aware of what needless information they give to companies, apps, and computer systems.