Cutting through the fluff around the Target PIN breach

OK, so Target is back in the news, and it’s nowhere nearly as bad this time but there’s some posturing and some fluff in the news, so I’ll take it upon myself to demystify some of it. Some of it’s PR fluff, and some of it’s highly technical, so I’ll cut through it.

I’m just glad–I guess–to be talking about this stuff outside of a job interview. Like I said, this time the news isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. Read more

What I’m doing to protect myself after the Target data breach

As you’ve probably heard, Target had a bad month. Between the days of 27 November and 15 December, about 40 million credit card numbers were stolen, making it one of the biggest breaches of its kind in history. As far as we know, the card number and security code were stolen, but debit-card PINs and addresses were not.

Target says they have contained the breach and are cooperating with credit card companies and authorities. Cringely has some analysis, but it has more for people like me to think about how we do things at work than it does for consumers.

And, well, as luck would have it, I shopped a lot at Target between the days in question. And I used both my credit and debit card during that time. Here’s what I’m doing, some of which may be counter-intuitive.

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Will this go down as my greatest crime against humanity?

I can’t decide if I should feel distressed that one of my Wikipedia entries directly led to the creation of the Martha Stewart entry on Wikipedia.
Allow me to explain myself. A link to a non-existant article about Frank W. Woolworth on a page in my watchlist was bugging me. So I wrote up Mr. Woolworth, which led me to do a writeup about the company he founded. Now I was born long after the five-and-dime’s heyday, but the concept was so central to many people’s memory of the 20th century that it bothered me that it wasn’t there. And even though Woolworth’s company is a shadow of its former self today–so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised if you thought it was out of business–Frank Woolworth invented the techniques that made Sam Walton the richest man in America.

I guess a cynical take on history could be that Frank Woolworth dramatically changed the look of downtown America, a century before Sam Walton destroyed it.

Woolworth’s five-and-dime stores evolved into the modern discount store we know today, which led me to write up an entry on Target Corporation and make significant additions to the entry on Kmart Corporation, since Woolworth at one time had two chains that competed directly with two of Kresge’s (now Kmart’s) chains.

Then someone noticed the Kmart entry didn’t mention Martha Stewart. Next thing I know, Martha Stewart has an entry in the Wikipedia.

Now Martha Stewart joins the long list of pop-culture icons who have entries in the Wikipedia.

I guess I really should go back to researching Microsoft.

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