Target: Customers' encrypted PINs were stolen - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Target: Customers' encrypted PINs were stolen

Posted: Updated:

ATLANTA (AP) - Target said Friday that debit-card PINs were among the financial information stolen from millions of customers who shopped at the retailer earlier this month.

The company said the stolen personal identification numbers, which customers type into keypads to make secure transactions, were encrypted and that this strongly reduces risk to customers. In addition to the encrypted PINs, customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on back of the cards were stolen from about 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

Security experts say it's the second-largest theft of card accounts in U.S. history, surpassed only by a scam that began in 2005 involving retailer TJX Cos.

"We remain confident that PIN numbers are safe and secure," spokeswoman Molly Snyder said in an emailed statement Friday. "The PIN information was fully encrypted at the keypad, remained encrypted within our system, and remained encrypted when it was removed from our systems."

However, Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan said Friday that the PINs for the affected cards are vulnerable and people should change their codes since such data has been decrypted, or unlocked, before. In 2009 computer hacker Albert Gonzalez pleaded guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and other charges after masterminding debit and credit card breaches in 2005 that targeted retailers such as T.J. Maxx, Barnes & Noble and OfficeMax. Gonzalez's group was able to unlock encrypted data. Litan said changes have been made since then to make decrypting more difficult but "nothing is infallible."

"It's not impossible, not unprecedented (and) has been done before," she said.

Besides changing your PIN, Litan says shoppers should instead opt to use their signature to approve transactions because it is safer. Still, she said Target did "as much as could be reasonably expected" in this case.

"It's a leaky system to begin with," she said.

Credit card companies in the U.S. plan to replace magnetic strips with digital chips by the fall of 2015, a system already common in Europe and other countries that makes data theft more difficult.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. said it is still in the early stages of investigating the breach. It has been working with the Secret Service and the Department of Justice.

__

Ortutay contributed from San Francisco.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • SpotlightSpotlightMore>>

  • Updated

    The Scrappers host “POPS at the Ballpark” featuring the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra

    The Scrappers host “POPS at the Ballpark” featuring the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 2:04 PM EDT2014-04-15 18:04:57 GMT
    NILES, Ohio – The Mahoning Valley Scrappers and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra are excited to host one of the Valley's premiere summer events, POPS at the Ballpark,More >>
    NILES, Ohio – The Mahoning Valley Scrappers and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra are excited to host one of the Valley's premiere summer events, POPS at the Ballpark, presented by Stanley E. Shearer with Northwestern Mutual and 21 WFMJ on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at Eastwood Field.More >>
  • Around the WebMore>>

  • 2 boaters found dead in Lake Erie; 2 more missing

    2 boaters found dead in Lake Erie; 2 more missing

    Thursday, April 17 2014 3:49 PM EDT2014-04-17 19:49:32 GMT
    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Authorities say the bodies of two of four missing boaters in western Lake Erie have been recovered off the Ohio shoreline. Officials say they recovered the bodies of two females Thursday.More >>
    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Authorities say the bodies of two of four missing boaters in western Lake Erie have been recovered off the Ohio shoreline. Officials say they recovered the bodies of two females Thursday.More >>
  • Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    Police stepped up patrols near the Boston Marathon finish line after a masked man walked in the street with a rice cooker in his backpack only hours after the city marked the anniversary of last year's deadly...More >>
    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.More >>
  • Low of 19 degrees in Toledo breaks 139-year record

    Low of 19 degrees in Toledo breaks 139-year record

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:34 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:34:39 GMT
    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Winter temperatures are refusing to go away in northwestern Ohio. The thermometer dropped to 19 degrees in Toledo Wednesday morning, breaking a 139-year-old record for the same dateMore >>
    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Winter temperatures are refusing to go away in northwestern Ohio. The thermometer dropped to 19 degrees in Toledo Wednesday morning, breaking a 139-year-old record for the same dateMore >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms