Late last week it was learned that some 40 million charge cards were obtained using physical processing systems located in Target retail locations nationwide. Though no details of the how the hack attack was executed have been released by Target, the FBI or other agencies investigating the breach, it is likely that the processing machines themselves were compromised. Target claims that the hack was sophisticated, but on the technical side, once hackers found a way into the credit card processing machines, probably via remote entry from servers somewhere in Eastern Europe or Russia, the theft of credit card data itself would have been fairly straight forward by using scripts or applications that simply capture the data and send it off to servers owned by the hackers.
This was probably one of the largest credit card thefts in history, though it is not at all surprising. Two years ago we noted that cyber attacks would soon be targeting America’s e-commerce systems and just a few months ago it was noted that rogue terrorist groups were specifically working on sabotage operation to bring down the U.S. economy. While this latest attack on Target stores and their customers fell far short of crashing our economy or financial system, it proves, as did recent breaches of Pentagon military networks, that even the most highly secured systems in the world can be compromised.
Furthermore, what this attack highlights is that with the right type of “event” the economy and financial system of the United States can be shut down… almost instantly.
If you are a JP Morgan Chase banking customer and happened to use your debit card at Target stores between November 27th and December 15th, then you got a first-hand taste of what a shutdown of the banking system might feel like and how fast in can happen.
It was done with the push of a button and impacted some two million holiday shoppers:
JPMorgan Chase has notified card holders impacted by the Target breach that their cards will be restricted to $100 ATM cash withdrawals and $300 card purchases until replacement cards can be issued. The new limits impact nearly 2 million debit card accounts, but not credit card holders.
Chase bank made the announcement to their customers of the coming restrictions just days before Christmas. They simply obtained a list of the potentially compromised cards, uploaded them into their system, and with the flick of a finger shut down electronic access to customers’ funds. Whether Chase’s actions were a bad business move is not necessarily at issue, though it was probably quite inconvenient for those affected.
What is at issue is what many in alternative media have been warning about for some time – that the entire financial system of the United States can be shut down within a matter of minutes should the right set of events be realized.
Most Americans don’t believe it can happen. Likewise, most people didn’t think that American domestic security agencies could shut down our borders and put transportation across the country on lock-down within a few hours – until it happened on September 11, 2001.
Former national security coordinator Richard Clarke has warned that America’s cyber infrastructure is so fragile that it could literally be brought down by a coordinated cyber attack in a matter of 15 minutes. It sounds absurd to suggest that our country could potentially be crippled that quickly, until you realize that China, Russia, and Iran have long been mapping our entire utility, commerce and communications grids, all of which would be the first targets in any large-scale confrontation.
Because cyber space is now considered a national asset, the President of the United States has the authority to completely shut down the internet (and all of the components attached to it) with what experts call a “kill switch.” If this executive action is ever implemented the President would need very little justification to shut it all down – the financial system, commerce systems, and all personal web surfing – for a period of up to four months, and then indefinitely if he can provide a justifiable reason to Congress.
We live in a world that is, for those paying attention, completely out of our control. Our entire way of life could change overnight for any number of reasons.
A war with a foreign power, a rogue terrorist attack, or a false flag event could all be a trigger event for something so debilitating that it would cause pandemonium from coast to coast.
Former Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano recently said that a massive and serious attack on the homeland is imminent. It makes no difference why it happens. Only that it does.
And when it does, you’d better be ready for it.
Mac Slavo is the Editor of SHTFplan.com