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The rash of attacks against Target and other top retailers is likely to be the leading edge of a wave of serious cybercrime, as hackers become increasingly skilled at breaching the nation’s antiquated payment systems, experts say.
Traditional defenses such as installing antivirus software and monitoring accounts for unusual activity have offered little resistance against gangs whose programmers write malicious code aimed at specific companies or buy inexpensive hacking kits online. Armed with such tools, criminals can check for system weaknesses in wireless networks, computer servers, or stores’ card readers.
Nearly two dozen companies have been hacked in cases similar to the Target breach, the FBI recently warned retailers, according to an official who was not authorized to speak publicly.