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HACK ATTACK EXPOSES WEB SHOPPER CREDIT CARD DATA

Source: E-Commerce Times

Posted on April 2, 2001

      Internet book vendor Bibliofind.com reportedly said Monday that a four-month long security breach on its computer servers has exposed customer credit card information.

      e-tailer, which provides an electronic catalog of millions of used and rare books for sale by independent booksellers around the world, said the violation affected user data housed on its servers between October and February, according to news reports published Monday.

      Bibliofind, whose parent company Exchange.com was purchased by Net giant Amazon in April 1999, has since removed customer information and is in the process of informing all customers who were affected by the breach via e-mail, according to published reports.

      Bibliofind is also said to have contacted federal law enforcement officials and credit card companies about the violation. Bibliofind's site was down all Monday morning.

Hack Hits

A number of other high-profile security breaches have compromised both the finances and confidence of online users in recent months. In December, online computer products retailer Egghead.com had its systems hacked but said no customer credit card data had been stolen.

      Also that month, credit card processor CreditCards.com said that its security was breached and that over 55,000 credit card numbers were taken from its servers and posted on the Web.

      Others that have been hit include Charles Schwab Corp., which said a flaw in its system left open the potential for a hacker to steal individual customers' stock trading accounts, and online brokerage firm E*Trade, which said a similar weakness in its system was discovered in September. In both instances, customer passwords and bank account numbers became vulnerable to hackers.

Fighting Back

In addition to raising the hackles of online firms and credit issuers, the escalating number of Internet credit card fraud cases is a cause for concern among government agencies.

      A report released last month by the European Commission (EC) found that online scam artists contributed to a 50 percent rise in credit card fraud in the European Union (EU), a problem that the EC said could cripple the developing international e-commerce market.

      The study said that illegal transactions reached an estimated US$553 million last year.

FBI Efforts

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also taken on the threat of online credit card fraud. Earlier this year, the agency announced that it had partnered with more than 500 private businesses in a program to share information about computer crime and how to thwart it.

      The program, called InfraGard, is available through all 56 FBI field offices and provides members with access to a secure Web site and an encrypted e-mail system that allows companies to exchange information about new threats and protection systems.

      E-commerce merchants and payment processing merchants have also taken steps to cut down on Internet-based fraud. Last fall, a coalition including American Express, Buy.com and Expedia formed the Worldwide E-Commerce Fraud Prevention Network, with the goal of allowing online vendors to share fraud prevention information. The Network hopes to improve Web security and reduce the costs associated with fraud.




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