Target’s Christmas nightmare just got worse: Customer PINs were stolen, too

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Oh dear. Target just confirmed that encrypted personal identification numbers (PINs) were, in fact, stolen when up to 40 million credit and debit card accounts of its customers were compromised by hackers in recent weeks. That appears to be an about face from a denial the retailer gave Reuters just two days ago.

Here is part of the company’s statement (emphasis theirs):

We remain confident that PIN numbers are safe and secure. The PIN information was fully encrypted at the keypad, remained encrypted within our system, and remained encrypted when it was removed from our systems.

To help explain this, we want to provide more context on how the encryption process works. When a guest uses a debit card in our stores and enters a PIN, the PIN is encrypted at the keypad with what is known as Triple DES. Triple DES encryption is a highly secure encryption standard…

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