How hackers can steal your credit card info

CNN
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POSTED: Saturday, December 21, 2013 - 2:00pm

UPDATED: Saturday, December 21, 2013 - 2:04pm

The holiday season means shopping at several retailers for many people, but how safe are you when you swipe your card?

Many Grinch-like hackers could literally steal Christmas. But there’s a group that can help.

Security researchers with a company called Trustwave have the job of finding flaws in technology to protect users or, in this case, shoppers.

The problem isn't in the card swiper attached to the phone; it's in the software retailers use to process customer payments.

In some cases, that software doesn't hide, or encrypt, your personal information, which makes it easy bait for hackers.

They can manipulate the device in a way that allows them to track activity, like credit card numbers swiped or typed in.

Trustwave recommends retailers stress-test their security and encourages what they call ethical hacking—essentially breaking the system before it's deployed to find the weak points.

And, while it's up to retailers and banks to ensure you're protected, consumers should always be on the lookout.

They also recommend customers always keep tabs on their transactions, especially during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year.

This is what it would have looked like if the Grinch went high tech.

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