Techman Texts: A little perspective on the Target breach
December 23, 2013 8:25 PM
Phil Coale/Associated Press
By Ced Kurtz / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When a big credit card heist like the recent theft of 40 million credit and debit card numbers at Target occurs, it creates a storm of paranoia and sometimes the facts get blown away by the winds of worry.
So let's just review some facts that may have been lost or distorted:
• The theft only affected credit cards used at brick and mortar stores, not on Target.com.
Tech Talk: Last-minute gifts for techies
The PG's Ced Kurtz shows off a few gadgets that might make good last-minute gifts for those with a holiday wish list. (Video by Melissa Tkach; 12/22/2013)
• Only purchases at those stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 were part of the breach.
• If your card was compromised, it does not mean your identity can be stolen. The magnetic strip on the back of your card doesn't have your Social Security number or your address or your phone number.
• Target said in a statement there is no indication that any debit card PIN numbers were stolen, so cards that were compromised cannot be used to withdraw cash from an ATM,
• What was taken, according to the original Target statement, was customer name, credit or debit card number, and the card's expiration date and CVV (the 3- or 4-digit security code often on the back of the card).
• In a later statement, Target said it does not appear security codes were taken. Without that, the card cannot be used for most online shopping. But because of the confusion, you should monitor credit card statements for unauthorized purchases.
• Not only Target's Red cards were affected. The retailer said it gave Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express the card numbers of those who may have been impacted, and these companies will monitor those cards for fraud. Most credit cards will make good on any losses as a result of an incident like this.
• Exactly how the theft was carried out is not yet known, but it is believed either malware was introduced into the software that runs the terminals where the cards are swiped or the data were somehow intercepted between the stores and credit card processors.
• Although 40 million is a lot of accounts, it is not the biggest such attack on record. That distinction is held by the attacks on the TJX Cos. (TJMaxx and Marshall's) in 2007 that affected 90 million cards.
• The biggest loser in all this is probably Target. The retailer doesn't need to have customers scared away at the most profitable time of the year.
More takedowns than a WWF match: Google reported that the number of takedown requests to remove content from services like the Play Store and YouTube have increased 68 percent over six months, says Gigaom.com.
The government of Turkey led with 1,673 and second was the United States with 545. Google did not say how many requests it rejected overall.
Examples of requests include removing apps because of trademark issues, a British member of Parliament who forced Google to censor a page in Google Books and a request from the government of Cyprus to remove names on Google Maps.
Your eyes are like pools of printer ink: 3-D printed eye cells could "aid in the cure of blindness" according to researchers at The University of Cambridge, who have successfully printed adult nerve cells for the first time.
The researchers used an inkjet printer to print living retinal cells of adult rats, which could be built up and used to create replacements for defective eye tissues and treat diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, Dezeen.com reported.
Website of the week: Copypastecharacter.com is a searchable list of all kinds of characters you won't find on your keyboard.
Geek quote of the week: Driving a Porsche in London is like bringing a Ming vase to a football game.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.