In some ways, 2014 has been the year of the retail/bank hack. Though Target capped off 2013 with the largest security breach in history, it was unable to even hold its crown for a full year before the Home Depot chased it from the throne. Joining the breach party that has been 2014 so far have been Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, JP Morgan Chase and PF Changs. All of those chains have seen customer data such as card numbers, social security information and home addresses stolen right out the digital backdoor.
And it’s only going to get worse.
“It’s war,” said Chief Technology Officer Andrew Rolfe of Authentify, a Chicago-based cyber security company that specializes in user authentication protection told VentureBeat. “And it’s a war that is going to continue for some time."
A long war is bad news, a long war that one team is woefully underprepared for is both worse news and the actual situation faced by the majority of the nation’s banks and retailers.
“Hackers clearly have the upper hand on retailers. Not only because retailers aren’t being proactive about security, but worse, they’re not even being reactive to put the right safeguards in place,” said Eric Chiu, President and co-founder of cloud security outfit Hytrust. “We’re seeing essentially the same types of breaches happening over and over at an alarming rate,” he said. “Most of these breaches involve insider threats, where an attacker is able to use advanced techniques, or APTs, including social engineering and phishing, to steal credentials and gain access to company networks."
The signature of the 2014 hack has been a multi-layered attack that brings damage in stages. What starts with a simple phishing scam has repeatedly grown to a data vacuuming exercise that eventually ends with customer credit and debit numbers being auctioned off on the dark web.
“The skill set of the hackers is evident in the source code. 60 to 70 percent of malware is copied from existing strains. Where the creativity lies now is in the masking and hiding of the malware within the systems, that often can’t detect it. The malware is constantly being adjusted in order to stay ahead,” Rolfe said.