Tightening Card Security

(NBC News) — Millions of times a day consumers check out with the swipe of a credit card, each time taking a chance with their private information stored on a magnetic strip.

In the wake of the massive Target data breach the retail industry has been campaigning for chip and P.I.N. credit cards, long used in Europe.

“If you can combine the P.I.N. with the chip you have a very secure system,” says the National Retail Federation’s Mallory Duncan.

The chip sends encrypted information to the bank, which authenticates the card, and much like a debit card, the user must enter a secret P.I.N.

These cards will be here and in use by banks and stores by 2015, but bankers call it a half solution.

“The data breach we saw at Target had nothing to do with chip and P.I.N.,” argues Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association. “It happened because Target didn’t have the proper infrastructure.”

Security experts agree.

The recent data breaches aren’t happening at registers, but behind the scenes on retailer’s computer systems.

“They need to be much more active inside of their own networks, and you can’t just sort of assume that bad things aren’t going to happen,” says Joseph Hall of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Bankers and retailers are also pushing for a federal data security law; right now 46 states have different rules about how to notify consumers about a breach.

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