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Cyber attacks are still a problem for many retailers

Date posted:  6/14/14 02:45:00 PM It's important for small-business owners to beef up their security plans.

Two of the nation's major retailers, Target and Neiman Marcus, are garnering most of the headlines regarding cyber attacks, but they're not alone when it comes to companies needing to spruce up their business protection plans. The White House reported nearly 85 percent of all cyber threats target small businesses.

Chris Thames, an IT manager, told Sioux Falls, Iowa ABC affiliate KSFY that he does everything in his power to mitigate malicious assaults.

"With security, I take it seriously. I want to make sure there's no way possible to get into secure data," Thames said.

He added that his office doesn't have many computers, but all of the sales reps have their own iPads and iPhones so they can manage their accounts from remote locations.

"In terms of security with wireless, it's there, it's open it's all around us. You don't see what's going on but it's there," Thames said. "All the information being transmitted can be used to decipher what your wireless encryption password is so you have to take that security into consideration. Just because you're using a password and have wifi access, it can be hacked and broken into over a period of time just by listening to what's going around," Thames said. 

Small business owners should not trust every incoming email, according to KSFY. Business owners should also invest in a robust firewall protection, limit administrative permission and create strong passwords for each account. It's also important to modernize any outdated software, because updates typically include new security patches.

Grasping the dangers
Target has yet to reveal how cyber attackers breached its network, but sources told Reuters that investigators believe the attackers used malicious software to steal data. Retailers are typically reluctant to report breaches because it could hurt business. Target did not concede its 2013 attack until security blogger Brian Krebs reported the breach, according to the New York Daily News.

One of the malware components commonly used for theft is known as a RAM scraper, a memory-parsing software that enables cyber criminals to steal encrypted data by capturing it when it travels through the live memory of a computer.

That technology has been around for many years, but criminals are going back to it because retailers have made it more difficult to steal credit card data using other methods.

While the technology has been around for many years, its use has increased in recent years as retailers have improved their protection, making it more difficult for hackers to obtain credit card data using other approaches.