Breaches exposed 1 in 7 US debit cards in 2013

The Target breach could speed up the switch to chip-based EMV cards

Data breaches at retailers and financial services companies exposed 14 percent of all U.S. debit cards in 2013, according to a nationwide survey by a major ATM network operator.

The figure is three times that of 2012 and comes as consumers are using debit cards to make more purchases than ever before.

The survey, conducted by Discover Financial Services' Pulse ATM network, found that the majority of affected cards were exposed in a single event: the Target data breach that compromised some 70 million customer records in late 2013.

Around 10 percent of all U.S. debit cards were affected in the Target incident, and the majority of financial institutions affected were pushed to reissue cards.

The Target breach will likely encourage a faster switch to so-called "EMV" cards, which contain a microchip rather than a magnetic strip, and require a PIN for authorization rather than a signature.

While EMV is already standard in Europe, U.S. banks and credit unions dragged their feet on the technology, but the Target breach has pushed the industry to a tipping point, said Pulse. Two-thirds of financial institutions plan to begin issuing EMV cards in 2015.

They are also being pushed by an Oct. 1, 2015, change in the liability rules concerning card purchases. After that date, card issuers and retailers that have invested in EMV technology will be protected from liability for losses.

The change gives banks and retailers the incentive to use EMV because the cost of the new technology is offset against the amount of fraud it will deter.

In the case of PIN-based transactions and traditional debit cards with magnetic strips, the difference is an order of magnitude. The survey found banks carried a fraud loss of 2.2 cents per signature transaction in 2013, compared with just 0.3 cents on PIN-based transactions.

The survey found consumers are using their debit cards more -- the average card was used 20 times a month in 2013, up by one transaction from 2012. The average debit card was used for US$8,875 of purchases in 2013, up $122 from the previous year.

The Pulse survey covered large banks, credit unions and community banks that together account for 45 percent of all debit card transactions in the U.S.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Pulse Networksecuritydata breachDiscover Financial Services

More about IDG

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Martyn Williams

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place