Stores Expose Customer Credit Card, Personal Data to Hackers

Major retailers neglect anti-theft encryption
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Nov 16, 2007 1:36 PM CST
Signs for MasterCard and American Express are posted outside a New York parking garage in a file photo from April 26, 2006. MasterCard Inc., the world's No. 2 credit card processor, said Wednesday, Oct....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Major US and European retailers routinely transmit sensitive data, including customer credit card and Social Security numbers, over wireless networks wide open to hackers. A recent undercover study by a wireless data security firm found half of stores in major shopping areas either exchanged data without anti-hacking encryption or used obsolete encryption easily foiled by thieves.

Surveyors carried laptops with signal-interrupting antennae through more than 3,000 stores in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, London, and Paris, then checked the information the laptops had picked up. The findings were "only the tip of the iceberg to a much larger security problem" in the retail business, one expert said.