Your credit card number on sale this week!

With fraud and identity theft on the rise, the federal government has taken an active26325056.thm.jpg stance in trying to protect the privacy of your personal, financial, and medical records. Over the past several months, the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) has been investigating a series of organized hacker groups from Eastern Europe, specifically Russia and the Ukraine. They are targeting U.S. E-commerce or E-banking.

More than 40 victims located in 20 states have been identified thus far. The hackers have penetrated U.S. computer systems by using flaws in Microsoft Windows NT operating systems. As early as 1998, Microsoft had discovered these flaws and developed and publicized software to fix them free. Once the hackers gain access, they download proprietary information, customer databases, and credit card information. The hackers then contact the victim through fax, e-mail, or telephone.

After notifying the company of the theft of information, they make a veiled threat by offering a new version of the old “glass insurance” that was sold to merchants at the turn of the century. They tell the victim that unless they subscribe to their monitoring and security services , some nasty hackers might access the network and steal the credit card information and other personal data. Even if they are hired and paid, what amounts to extortion money, the stolen information is still at risk .

More than one million credit card numbers have been stolen to date. The risk to the US f7233219.thm.jpginancial system is enormous.The U.S. Government’ s watchdog, The National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) has issued an updated advisory to all financial institutions and other interested parties. The NIPC emphasizes the specific recommendation that all computer network systems administrators check all relevant systems. The following vulnerabilities have been reported. A worm that allows unauthorized access to secured, nonpublished files on the system. A program that allows unauthorized users to tunnel credit card requests through a public connection to a private network.In case you don’t recognize these systems it is because NT was sold to the business world primarily for its security features. Ironic, isn’t it?

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