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Cyber Insecurity – is there a pill for that?

October 6, 2014

If you are one of the 83 million JPMorgan Chase account holders whose information was compromised in the cyber attack the financial giant is now touting as “no big deal,” you may have a different opinion from that public pat-on-the-head PR line. If you are one of the unidentified nine other compromised institutions, you may not even know your information has been illegally accessed.

If you shopped at Target, Harbor Freight, Home Depot, TJ Maxx, Albertson’s/SuperValu, or the many other recently compromised financial or point-of-sale portals, perhaps you have already had to replace your cards or even get new account numbers, perhaps several times.

If you are putting your faith in one of the so-called financial security watchdog firms, the ones that tout their “bank-level” security software, you might be wondering whether that $329.89 annual charge is worth it.

Reportedly, the people behind the scenes that supposedly care about these things do say they are concerned, but apparently not concerned enough to do anything about it.

They report that they have a general idea of where the attacks are coming from, but given the ease of changing or spoofing IP addresses and locations, haven’t been able to do much about the problem, or more likely, they don’t want to do anything about it.

The Feds totally control the banking system, and have generated literally billions in fines from many of them, but as yet, there is no Federal law on the books that requires fines or even immediate notification when your account is compromised.  Some of these institutions have waited up to a year to make breaches public and notify account holders.

Some states, reportedly Connecticut and New York, are starting to put pressure on the banks, and Bank of America did announce that it hoped to have new cards available in October 2015.

This “new” technology has been available for years in Europe. Unfortunately, the RFID system can be hacked fairly easily too.

Given that there are so many ACH and EFT transfers, even your grandma’s Direct Deposit Social Security payment is probably at risk.

Back in the 1980’s the cashless society was thought to be one of the boons of the burgeoning computer age.

We may be going cashless all right…as in, all our cash will be in Russia or China or some other country overseas.

Carrying wads of cash is one solution, but let’s face it, there are some cities where there are far more hoods than neighbors. And it’s pretty hard to tele-transport your payment for that neat pair of shoes or your electric bill with cash.

We could go back to checks, but that presupposes the cyber crooks will leave the money in our accounts long enough for a check to clear. It also ignores the fact that most paper checks are processed through the same electronic gateways that process credit and debit cards.

At a time when we are debating whether it’s moral or nice to drop a few  dozen 500-pounders on a few thousand psychopathic killers in the Middle East, hackers might not seem like one of our bigger problems to the government policy wonks.

Maybe when they manage to get hold of the government payroll payment system and the bureaucrats find they have no money, it will get to be a little more important.


From → op-ed

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