63% of businesses don’t encrypt credit cards

In its third study on unencrypted card data, SecurityMetrics found that 63.86% of businesses store the unencrypted 16-digit sequence on the front of credit cards, also known as the Primary Account Number (PAN). Furthermore, 7% of businesses store the magnetic stripe data on the back of credit cards.

“Because of its value on the black market, unencrypted card data, is essentially just a $50 bill lying on the sidewalk, waiting for a hacker to pick it up,” said SecurityMetrics Director of Forensic Investigations, David Ellis. “Unencrypted card data is the ‘low hanging fruit’ that is ripe for easy picking, and it’s what attackers first look for when they hack a business.”

During its 2014 study, PANscan scanned 145,144 gigs of data on 2,590 computers and found:

  • A total of 87,206,203 unencrypted payment cards
  • 63.86% of businesses store unencrypted PAN data
  • 7.37% of businesses store full magnetic stripe data, including PIN, CVV, service code, expiration date, cardholder name, and PAN.

Since its introduction, PANscan has found more than 780 million unencrypted card numbers on business networks. That’s more than 2.5 cards for every one person in the United States.

“Unencrypted card data can easily occur at both small and large retail locations,” said Gary Glover, Director of Security Assessment. “It may accidentally be saved on point of sale terminals, office workstations, hard drives, etc. due to misconfigured software, improper file removal, or restored backups.”

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