Just eight months after Target suffered one of the biggest retail hacking attacks in history, Home Depot announced this month that it too had been hacked. Signs of the attack were discovered by security researcher Brian Krebs after learning that Home Depot was receiving calls from banks and law enforcement about suspicious transactions. According to the continuing investigation, the hackers may have had access to cards for the last six months.
It is not yet known how many credit and debit cards were stolen, but according to Home Depot, there is no evidence that debit card PINs were compromised. However, it is believed that hackers are creating counterfeit cards based on the ones stolen from Home Depot customers. Hackers can then change the PIN number and make withdrawals at ATM machines. Hackers continue to sell stolen card data and the cardholder’s personal information on international crime websites.
It appears that hackers used point-of-sale (POS) malware to gain access to Home Depot card terminals. The malware, known as FrameworkPOS, is thought to be based on a similar type of malware used in the Target breach, known as BlackPOS. The malware attacks POS terminals using a Windows operating system. Originally, researchers believed that the similarities between the two types of malware hinted at the possibility that the same hackers attacked both Target and Home Depot. However, it is now believed that differences between the two are significant enough to indicate that separate groups carried out the attacks.
Home Depot says only customers who recently shopped in their brick-and-mortar stores in the United States and Canada are at risk—there has been no evidence of theft for online shoppers. In response to the breach, Home Depot is offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for its customers. The Atlanta-based company has also replaced many of its card-swiping machines with new machines that accept more secure chip-enabled cards.
Companies that house credit and debit card data and personal information about millions of customers will undoubtedly continue to be major targets for hackers. Within the past year, Home Depot, Target, Albertson’s, P.F. Chang’s and Neiman Marcus have all been breached—as well as others that . As a consumer, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent this from happening, but there are ways you can prepare your business in case it gets breached:
• Regularly monitor your bank accounts and credit card statements for unusual activity. Often, credit card companies will notice fraudulent charges, but they can’t catch everything. Vigilance is key.
• If your company uses POS terminals, always ensure they have the latest anti-virus software installed.
• Make sure your employees are well trained on how to protect company data. Teach them about social engineering risks, how to pick proper passwords and about bring-your-own-device protocols.
September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. This month we will be featuring articles on the blog to help you understand how much life insurance you may need, when you should purchase life insurance as well as the different types of life insurance.
If others depend on you for financial support, part of your financial plan should include how you will provide for them in the event of your death. Purchasing a life insurance policy is a safety net that ensures your loved one’s future financial obligations are met, covering items such as funeral costs, outstanding debt, estate taxes and everyday living expenses.
If you are married, it’s important for both spouses to have a life insurance policy. If both people bring in an income, a death can be a difficult financial loss. Also, if a stay-at-home parent should pass away, expenses such as childcare and other domestic items can create financial hardship, too.
There are two basic types of life insurance: term life insurance and permanent life insurance. The type of life insurance policy that best suits you will depend on your unique needs. To help you decide, we’ve covered the basics.
Option #1: Term Life Insurance
Just as its name implies, term life insurance covers you for a specific period of time, or term, that you choose. Since it offers a death benefit but no cash value, term life insurance is an inexpensive way to protect your beneficiaries for a specified period of time.
It is ideal for those who have a temporary need for life insurance protection, for those who need a large amount of insurance protection but have limited cash or for those with specific business needs, such as additional coverage for a key employee.
Renewal term life insurance can be renewed at the end of the term, at the option of the policyholder and without evidence of insurability, for a limited number of successive terms. It can also be converted, or exchanged for a permanent insurance policy, without evidence of insurability down the road.
With term life insurance, once the term expires, your coverage ceases and the policy has no further value. It’s important to note that rates generally increase along with the insured’s age.
Option #2: Whole Life Insurance
Permanent life insurance is any form of life insurance other than term. Examples are whole life, universal life and variable life. These policies combine term life insurance with a long-term, tax-sheltered savings plan.
Whole life is the most basic type of permanent life insurance. It provides coverage that lasts a lifetime and also builds up a cash value that you can borrow against, withdraw or use to pay future premiums.
A life insurance policy with a cash value is ideal for those who have a lifetime need for insurance protection, prefer stable premiums over the life of the policy, want a policy that allows them to build tax-deferred values, and value the high degree of coverage the policy affords. While rates for a whole life insurance policy remain stable over the life of the policy, premiums are initially more costly than for term insurance.
Regardless of whether you choose a term or permanent life insurance policy, both can afford protection and peace of mind knowing you have the coverage when you need it most. Call us today at 864-582-5481 to learn more.