Fighting Hackers, Fraud and Wrong Perceptions. (ABA Chairman's Position)
Patterson, Aubrey B., ABA Banking Journal
YOU'LL RECALL THE NEWS STORY IN February about a hacker who gained access to millions of Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit card account numbers. The hacker reportedly broke into the computer system of an Omaha company that processes credit card transactions.
Several things immediately happened. First, the security breach quickly triggered a criminal investigation, with the Secret Service and FBI taking the lead. Also, a number of banks notified affected customers and, in a few cases, issued new account numbers. And third, press coverage helped blow this cyber crime out of proportion, with some news outlets calling it "the biggest credit card hacking incident so far."
So much for keeping the security lid on. USA Today even editorialized that these kinds of break-ins aren't publicized enough. "In most hacker attacks, nobody outside of the victimized company finds out when thieves steal trade secrets, confidential consumer information or money," said the newspaper's editorial of Feb. 21. "The vast majority of firms keep the attacks to themselves out of fear that disclosure would hurt business and invite lawsuits." The paper called for banks and others to widely publicize such crimes, saying "companies forced to reveal breaches also would have a stronger incentive to improve the security of their computer systems."
What was lacking in the press coverage was what bankers always provide their customers in the way of safety and security. Lost in many of the news stories, was what we do as an industry to keep our customers safe from the unwanted intrusions of cyber-criminals. The confidentiality of our customers' financial information is central to the business we re in. When a customer is defrauded, our practice has often been to take the financial loss. …