OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The November theft of 40 million credit and debit card accounts from customers who shopped at Target was not an isolated incident.
Locally, the U.S. Secret Services said it deals with around three cyber- security breaches per month.
In many cases it is criminals across the world using computers to hack in remotely to local business terminals.
“Secret service came to my door and scared me to death. There were three of them,” describes an Overland Park restaurant owner about the day Secret Service agents knocked on her door to inform her of the breach.
The business owner wanted to remain anonymous but also wants to warn other businesses that it could happen to them.
“I’m not a computer person so I couldn’t even tell you how these guys do this. It’s very, very scary though,” she said.
Over the summer, Secret Service agents informed the long time restaurant owner that cyber criminals had hacked into her terminal system accessing customer’s credit and debit card information.
“I felt like I had been robbed of everything,” she said of the cyber-crime.
In fact, it has been happening all over the metro according to Fishnet Security, a Kansas City based company that handles online security solutions to businesses large and small all over the country.
“We get a lot of Friday afternoon phone calls, is kind of the most common time frame. When we get the breach calls because they want to have folks leaving the office and then not to be discovered over the weekend,” said Mark Carney, Vice President of Strategic Services for Fishnet Security.
U.S. Secret Service Agent Jeff Rinehart, the local Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge added, “Here in the KC area we see this happen several times a month.”
Rinehart said businesses need to take preemptive measures or will put customers at risk.
“Once they breach the terminal and they are able to get the numbers, within 20-30 minutes you’ll see a flood of these numbers appear on the internet for sale,” said Rinehart.
“You really just have to instill security best practices and you have to do it on a daily basis,” said Carney.
The Secret Service said businesses trying to prevent cyber-attacks should use stronger passwords that don’t allow remote access on terminals.
Also, restrict use of the internet on point of entry terminals and always use a firewall and strong anti-virus software.
“Just beware, make sure you know what’s going on with your point of sale systems and everything that’s going on inside and outside because you never know when it could happen to you,” said the restaurant owner.
For more information on how you can protect your business you can email a request to the Secret Service at KCECTF@USSS.DHS.GOV