Target: Customers' encrypted PINs were stolen

by Retail Writer Mae Anderson Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay

alt

Target says that about 40 million credit and debit card accounts customers may have been affected by a data breach that occurred at its U.S. stores between Nov. 27, 2013, and Dec. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)


ATLANTA (AP) — Target said Friday that debit-card PIN numbers were among the financial information stolen from millions of customers who shopped at the retailer earlier this month.

The company said the stolen personal identification numbers, which customers type in to keypads to make secure transactions, were encrypted and that this strongly reduces risk to customers. In addition to the encrypted PINs, customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on back of the cards were stolen from about 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

Security experts say it's the second-largest theft of card accounts in U.S. history, surpassed only by a scam that began in 2005 involving retailer TJX Cos.

Target said it doesn't have access to nor does it store the encryption key within its system, and the PIN information can only be decrypted when it is received by the retailer's external, independent payment processor.

"We remain confident that PIN numbers are safe and secure," spokeswoman Molly Snyder said in an emailed statement Friday. "The PIN information was fully encrypted at the keypad, remained encrypted within our system, and remained encrypted when it was removed from our systems." The company maintains that the "key" necessary to decrypt that data never existed within Target's system and could not have been taken during the hack.

However, Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan said Friday that the PINs for the affected cards are not safe and people "should change them at this point."

Minneapolis-based Target said it is still in the early stages of investigating the breach. It has been working with the Secret Service and the Department of Justice.



More Local

Moreland festivities continue despite weather

Rain cancelled the Moreland Trivia Contest and brought vendors from outdoors into the Moreland Mill, but the south Coweta town’s role ... Read More


Volunteers help prepare annual Moreland barbecue

Succulent pork barbecue and the trimmings were served up at the Lewis Grizzard Memorial Barbecue Pavilion behind the Moreland Mill on Saturd ... Read More


Lighting up the sky

Fireworks tradition started in the mid-1970s

See Sunday's print edition for a full-page layout of images that accompanied this story.  For many residents of Coweta County, the annu ... Read More


Rain puts damper on 4th events

Inclement weather may have cancelled Newnan’s annual Fourth of July parade Saturday, but a few brave vendors set up booths downtown de ... Read More


Coweta Commission

Workshop meeting set for Tuesday at 4

The Coweta County Board of Commissioners will meet twice this week: on Tuesday for a workshop meeting and Thursday for the first regular mee ... Read More

Program helps households replace old toilets

A program aimed at increasing the number of efficient toilets – and getting rid of older water wasting models – is working. The ... Read More