Morning Security Brief: Retailers Discuss Cyberthreats, West Virginia Water Emergency Continues, Digital Privacy Threatened

By Teresa Anderson

► Cybersecurity was the main topic of conversation at the opening of the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual convention yesterday. Retailers have been rethinking their strategies after the massive data breach at Target over the recent holiday season. According to an article by Reuters,  the association’s general counsel Mallory Duncan said that the NRF is urging its members to “upgrade to higher-security cards even though they cost more than the old systems that store data on magnetic stripes.” The high-security cards store customer information on a computer chip and require users to confirm their identity with a PIN. The cards, which are widely used in Asia and Europe, have been slow to catch on in the United States because, until recently, “losses to fraud—just 5 cents for every $100 spent via plastic—have been manageable for merchants and other banks.”

► More than 300,000 people in nine counties are facing a fifth day without water after a chemical used in coal processing leaked into the water supply. According to The Washington Post, the chemical leaked from an old tank into the Elk River. The article notes that “the infrastructure here was primed for a water crisis,” because the chemical tanks were stored near the river and only a mile upstream from the water intake system. The New York Times says that West Virginia lawmakers are being asked why the chemical storage tanks were allowed to sit so near the river and why they not been subject to a government or state inspection since 1991. According to The Washington Post article, state government officials said the chemical levels dropped significantly over the weekend, but cleaning up the spill will take “a number of days, and will occur in stages.”

► ESET, a company specializing in protection of digital information, has released a report detailing its predictions for the major threats coming in 2014. “Loss of privacy and the mechanisms to protect privacy” tops the list in light of the NSA surveillance scandal. Another top threat is a “major increase” in Android malware. The number of detections reported rose 60 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to the report. ESET predicts that the reports will be even higher in 2014. Other trends include the spread of malicious code in the form of ransomware and “ever-present and more complex botnets.”



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