Sophisticated identity theft in California

Very popular self checkout stations have been recently compromised in Northern California Lucky store chain. According to the Police in Petaluma at least 57 people reported funds stolen from their bank accounts after using self checkout lanes VeriFone card readers. The average loss is estimated at $500 per victim. Lucky supermarket spokeswoman said there were 300 claims among Lucky customers who reported unauthorized charges on their account or attempt of unauthorized charge.
Although Secret Service declined to comment it is suspected that the data was captured using 802.11 or Bluetooth wireless technology. Both technologies are poorly protected against hacking and have been compromised number of times. Only few months ago Boston court sentenced Albert Gonzalez, 28 years old college drop out for 25 years in prison for stealing credit card information of large retailers customers. Gonzalez and his gang mates were sniffing data from retailer’s wireless networks; he was also Secret Service informant on credit card black market. It’s been estimated that over 170 credit and ATM cards have been compromised by Gonzalez gang making it the biggest fraud case in history.
Gonzalez case shows how poorly credit card data is protected when handled by merchants. It’s surprising that handling sensitive billing information is not regulated. With the current standards of wireless networking technology high level of encryption should be required at least and for networks used exclusively for billing wireless transmission should be prohibited.
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