Hackers Allegedly Steal 160 Million Credit Card Numbers

hackers steal

It is another reminder of how vulnerable our digitally connected world has become. Five men were charged Thursday in what has been called the largest data breach conspiracy known. It is certainly the largest ever prosecuted in the United States.

In an official announcement released by the Department of Justice, officials claimed four Russians and one Ukranian citizen were involved in the global conspiracy.

How They Did It

Hackers allegedly identified vulnerabilities in databases and installed malware allowing them to obtain access to sensitive user data. That data included names, passwords, means of identification and more than 160 million credit card numbers.

Cyber criminals targeted major retailers, payment processors and financial institutions worldwide. Damages are estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Three corporate victims alone reported a combined loss of $300 million.

A Cautionary Tale

Unfortunately, small businesses are not immune to cyber attacks and the damage to finances and reputation they bring.

Internet security provider Symantec reports that businesses with fewer than 250 employees were the targets of 31 percent of cyber attacks last year, up from 18 percent the year before.

That could be due to the fact that many small business owners believe their companies are not large enough to interest cyber criminals, an earlier Symantec survey found.

Hacker Photo via Shutterstock

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Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Executive Editor for Small Business Trends and a professional journalist with more than 20 years experience in traditional and digital media for trade publications and news sites. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has served as a beat reporter, columnist, editorial writer, bureau chief and managing editor for the Berks Mont Newspapers.

5 Reactions
  1. Hi Shawn, 160 million? That probably touches the credit cards of most of the adult population in the United States.

    The saddest part of this is that I no longer even am shocked by the numbers.

    One thing it demonstrates is that as a small business you have to do everything you can to protect confidential customer data such as credit card numbers.

    – Anita

    • Shawn Hessinger

      So true, Anita. The other thing to remember here is that, as the post mentions, small businesses aren’t immune. If you’ve received online payments or have customer data in your database, your system could be vulnerable, and just as attractive to a cyber criminal seeking access to sensitive information.

  2. overall security could be improved of users recognized how they participate in creating vulnerability. MS Outlook is a great tool for IT admins to use when testing IT security 🙂

  3. This incident has shattered the world of cyber crime once again without any doubt. If this type of crime keeps going, it will severely destroy people’s faith over using cards. I just don’t get one thing – why these talented guys use their brain doing such stuff? What do they want to proof? What happens to their lives when they are caught? Can anyone here help me answer my queries?