Main Street in the Cross Hairs
By ERIC DASH
The nation's 5 million retail stores are proving to be an
easy target for data thieves.
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Along a crowded stretch of highway just south of Miami's downtown is a shopping
area that might be called the data theft capital of the United States. In the
wireless hacker equivalent of a drive-by shooting wave, criminals obtained the
cardholder information of tens of thousands of customers at four major stores
there, including a DSW Shoes retail outlet that appears to have been the
initial source of a chainwide data breach.
Recent investigations reveal that the thieves singled out stores with strong
wireless signals and weakly protected data. While their exact methods are not
known, they could have parked a car outside a store or set up in the local
Starbucks , using a laptop computer outfitted with an off-the-shelf wireless
receiver. They may have even received help from Web sites listing the
geographic coordinates of easy-to-target stores.
From there, it would be easy to pick up signals being broadcast around the
store and use them to gain access to its computer systems. For more than a
month, the hackers "robbed" the same shops again and again of premium card
account numbers stored in their databases......