If you’re one of the 40 million Target shoppers whose credit card information was compromised last month, you’ve probably been wondering who exactly has control of your data. We don’t know for sure, but much of the code the hackers used was written in Russian, according to a report. Many are speculating that the criminals in Eastern Europe and Central Asia may be behind this. The WSJ describes the technique used by the hackers:
Investigators wouldn’t say how Target’s network was breached, but the software virus injected into its payment-card devices couldn’t be detected by any known antivirus software, according to the report. The virus’s authors included additional features to hide that they were collecting copies of data from the magnetic stripes on Target customers’ payment cards and concealing it within Target’s systems. […]What’s really unique about this one is it’s the first time we’ve seen the attack method at this scale,” said Tiffany Jones, a senior vice president at iSight. “It conceals all the data transfers. It makes it really hard to detect in the first place.”
If the Russian Mob is this good, just think what the world’s governments are up to. People shocked by Snowden’s revelations need to brace themselves. There are a lot of bad guys out there who want your data, and the chances are good that they are going to get it. Some of those bad guys are governments run by kleptocrats who, if they get the chance, would give the mob a crack at your bank account for a share of the money. Cyberspace is not a paradise of love and trust. It’s more Renaissance Italy than Little House on the Prairie, and we ain’t seen nothing yet.One of the most important roles of government in the 21st century may turn out to be protecting the property and privacy of its citizens from internationally based hackers. If it’s true that we’ll need and demand that kind of security, then governments are going to become more powerful online.