Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thieves sell YOUR account numbers on underground black markets

Debit and credit cards stolen in Target breach reportedly for sale in underground black markets | Fox News:
Credit and debit card accounts stolen during a security breach involving retailer Target have reportedly flooded underground black markets, going on sale in batches of one million cards.
The cards are being sold from around $20 to more than $100 each, KrebsOnSecurity reports. The security news site said it spoke to a fraud analyst at a major bank who said his team was able to buy a portion of the bank’s accounts from an online store advertised in cybercrime forums as a place where thieves can buy stolen cards.
The analyst was not identified, but said the purchase was made before Target admitted Thursday that data connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts was stolen as part of a breach that began over the Thanksgiving weekend.
(We first reported this here on December 19, 2014)

Fortunately, I don't do my Christmas shopping at Target.

No, that's misleading ... I don't do Christmas shopping at all.  I'm less prudent than I am a curmudgeon, but apparently it's an Unexpected Consequence (or benefit?) of Curmudgeonlihood!

CHASE bank responded by putting temporary "restrictions" on the 10% of their accounts which may have been affected.  About 2 million of them, apparently. 

As expected, Target customers had trouble reaching the national chain's call center.  Many refused to shop at Target stores.  It's obvious that as much as it affected consumers, it affected the chain's profitability even more.  During this, the most frantic shopping period of the year, that could sound the death knell for Target.

My opinion, not fact ... but Watch This Space.

Personally, I tend to use debit cards rather than debit cards for purchases.  I don't keep enough in my bank account to cause fiscal ruin if I'm hacked.

On the other hand, my single credit card account does have protection plans.

Last year I reported that my credit card had been hacked.  Some $1500 had been used for what seemed to be "charitable contributions"   (presumably accounts set up by the hackers to accept stolen funds).  When I noticed the charges the day after they occurred, I notified my Credit Card Vendor and they cancelled the account, deleted the charges, and sent me a new credit card.  It was upsetting, and inconvenient ... but didn't cost me a penny after I reported and challenged the charges.

Unfortunately, not all bank debit cards offer the same kind of protection.

TARGET was responsible in reporting the problem immediately after they discovered the deception, and they are presumably taking steps to prevent its recurrance.

On Friday, Target reiterated that the stolen data included customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip found on the backs of cards, Target said.
There was no indication the three- or four-digit security numbers visible on the back of the card were affected, Target said. It also said Friday there was no indication that the stolen data included a customer's birth date or social security number. The data breach did not affect online purchases, the company said.
Target also said it didn't believe that PIN numbers to customers' debit cards have been compromised.
 That's a single ray of hope for consumers whose card numbers have been compromised.

My credit card company offers a 'notification service'; when they see a charge which does not seem to match their customers' normal shopping patterns ... they hold the transaction and contact me personally to confirm that the transaction is legitimate.  That's a responsible way to manage an account, if you're a credit card company.  So far, all of the transactions which they have notified me about have been legitimate.  I can only assume that the two "bogus" transactions had not yet tripped their BS-ometer before it tripped mine.  (Considering that the two charges totaled over $1,200, it's a good argument for credit card holders to regularly monitor their own account!)

And yes, I did check my credit card account ... my only charges since my last payment are only purchases which I recognize.

Can you say the same about your own credit account?  May I suggest that you check it ..... now?


Protective Eyeware

Seattle girl escapes serious injury when bullet hits glasses - U.S. News:
By Jonathan Kaminsky, Reuters

A teenage girl avoided serious injury when her glasses deflected a bullet fired during a drive-by shooting at her Seattle home, police said on Sunday. 
The 16-year-old girl was asleep on her living room couch at about 9:40 p.m. local time on Saturday when shots were fired from a dark-colored sedan as it passed her house, Seattle police spokesman Detective Mark Jamieson said. Several bullets went through the walls of the house and one through the front window, Jamieson said. 
One of the bullets struck the bridge of the teen's glasses, Jamieson said. She suffered only minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital, he added.
 People sometimes question what KIND of protective eyeware is appropriate when on the range.  As the accompanying article illustrates, ANYTHING is better than nothing.

Certainly, they should be impact-resistant. That's the first criteria for choosing safety glasses which are appropriate for wear on a shooting range.   Of course, any brittle material is limited to the amount of resistance they can provide, which is why Polychromate* POLYCARBONATE materials are among the first choices for shooters who want to protect their eyes from injury.

Yes, they should be shatterproof, too.  You don't want shards of glass poking out of your eyeball when the integrity of the lenses is interrupted by impact, either by a bullet or rocks from the berm or even a piece of brass as ejected from the breach of a semi-automatic pistol.  That's why Polycarbonate materials are preferable to, say "tempered glass".  They're made of plastic, which means "bendable".  So, even though they may dent or bend or even break, they are less likely than glass to actually shatter.

Finally, they should protect the eyes from impact from the sides, not just from the front. Ricochets may come from any direction, so if you can see the source of the object, that object may hit your eye.  This makes it important to you to choose frames which continue this protection in directions other than straight ahead.  Wrap-around frames (such as Smith&Wesson "38 special" offers) allow not only heavy frames, but the lenses also wrap around so that you retain peripheral vision.
Other considerations are price (the S&W example costs less that $12 .. they're affordable), protection from sun, glare, reflection and UV (many polycarbonate lenses are available in a variety of coatings), and style.

Also, some of us have vision problems such as astigmatism near-sightedness and far-sightedness.  Opticians have become increasingly aware of these concerns, so it is possible that your own optician can offer you prescription glasses using "safety glass" materials.

If that's not your first choice, there are also glasses which are made to allow you to grind lenses to your prescription and insert them into frames which are designed to accept inserted lenses ... or "RX INSERTS".   These are usually heavier frames, sometimes "goggles" and may not suit your sense of style.  However, they do allow a combination of materials and vision which are not readily available from other options at a price which fits your budget.

You may have noticed that STYLE is not the first criteria here.   Well, styles change, and if you want to spend the money you can get STYLISH safety glasses which meet all your needs and your "wants", too.   However, not everyone can readily afford to spend extra money for style when their primary need is safety.

Also, your vision requirements may change as well, which means that every time you have to order a new prescription, you have to spend a lot to replace your old glasses.

As an example, I offer my own changing visual requirements.

I am "far sighted", which means I can see just fine past about five feet but about 20 years ago my eyes changed so much that I need special lenses in order to read comfortably.  Ten years ago, I could no longer get a clear image of my front sight, even when my arms were fully extended.  That was when I had to change from sunglasses to bifocals.  I can see the front sight clearly through the lower half of the lenses, and the target is only slightly blurred at distances far enough that it matters. I can see the targets clearly through the upper half of the lenses.  I have the option of choosing to use the lower lenses for far targets, or the upper lenses for the near targets, so I've learned to just tilt my head to get the best compromise .. a perfect sight picture, or 'good enough for close work'.

I shoot right-handed, but I am left-eye dominant.  I've learned to handle that but it makes the choice of which lens of which EYE to use in sighting ... again, based on distance.

Now, my vision is again changing.  Vision in my dominant left eye has changed to the point where now my RIGHT eye is dominant!   I had to change my prescription and order a new set of glasses .. at $480 for the set.

My glasses are NOT strictly speaking, made of "Polycarbonate".  Instead, they are "Trivex".

Click the link for specific comparison of "Polycarbonate" vs "Trivex" lenses, but for a quick summary:
Trivex thicker, but lighter, so provides more protection for less overall weight; provide "crisper" optics, both 'central' and 'peripheral';  usually more expensive; comparable impact resistance and coatings (eg: UV protection).  Also, Polycarbonate lenses are available in a "wider variety of ... progressive lenses and multifocals".

On the other hand, my bifocals works work just fine for me.  Given that I hate wearing glasses ... but "need" to ... it was my choice to go for the more expensive lenses so that I didn't have to buy one pair of glasses for shooting, and another pair of glasses for my daily wear.  I have comfort day-by-day, and I don't have to compensate/compromise comfort for safety when I go shooting.  Yes, it costs more, but when I'm shooting I am wearing EXACTLY the same glasses I wear every day, so I'm not distracted from my accuracy by looking through lenses which are uncomfortable or unfamiliar.

Your choice may not be the same, and that's fine.  If we were not individualists, we would probably not be shooting IPSC matches as often as we can .. or can afford to .. or can find materials to reload our ammunition.

But that's a topic for another discussion.



A final word.

I often use the terms POLYCHROMATE and POLYCARBONATE interchangeably.  That's wrong.


n.1.(Chem.) A salt of a polychromic acid.

1.(Chem.) A compound which exhibits, or from which may be prepared, a variety of colors, as certain solutions derived from vegetables, which display colors by fluorescence

Any of a class of thermoplastics characterized by high-impact strength, light weight, and flexibility, and used as shatter-resistant substitutes for glass.

If you, like me, are sometimes confused by the similarity of compound words ... the word we're looking for here is POLYCARBONATE!