I, like millions of Americans, received a letter in the mail, “Your credit card was used at Target during the time of their recent security breach. Card information may have been compromised. As a result, we are sending you a new card to replace the one you currently have.”
Secret Service investigators said April 17 it may take years to identify the criminals who stole 110 million debit and credit card numbers, PINs, and other personal information from Target. Hopefully that estimate includes all the time Secret Service agents may spend passed out in the halls of Amsterdam hotels.
Target is far from the only retail chain hacked by cyberthieves, but was merely the most timely and open about the theft. Michaels revealed that their breach lasted eight months, between May 8, 2013, and Jan. 27, 2014. (Darn, another credit card letter is probably in the mail.)
Apparently Michaels’ cyber-robbery affected only 3 million Americans. That is because they sell less-essential items than Target, which has collectable cards, Blu-rays of old sit-coms, an aisle of chocolate, freezers of ice cream, lots of pet supplies, $8 reader glasses and an in-store Starbucks. So, even if their payment system leaks like a lawn sprinkler, I simply cannot stop going. Gotta shop till I drop.
Take heart, consumers. The solution is near – credit and debit cards with imbedded computer chips will soon be here. The U.S. is a slow adopter, a Luddite where this is concerned. Many other countries already have chips in their cards, hindering credit and debit card theft.
Then the next advancement will arrive on the scene. Countries with national health care systems often have standardized medical cards with smart chips that hold a person’s digital medical records. Undoubtedly this will be the next Affordable Care Act improvement to America’s health system.
Some countries have chips imbedded in their drivers’ licenses. We already have chips in our passports. U.S. drivers’ licenses will soon have them, too. This can gradually be converted into a standardized national identity card. (The Soviet Union called them internal passports.)
Soon corporate, insurance and government leaders will decide to combine the various cards into one, placing all our bank and credit account data, citizenship information and medical records onto a single smartcard.
Since our bank funds and loan accounts can be securely and instantly accessed with this one card, the expense and bother of checks, currency and coins can be phased out. I hate coins in the pockets of my Levi’s, jiggling until they wear a hole, falling down my pant leg into my Nikes (ending up with a blister on my foot, being too lazy to take off the shoe and remove the coins).
Even the need of flu shots may soon be eliminated, because no one will be handling crumpled dollar bills that people have blown their nose into. Hallelujah, for the cashless society.
Since we will no longer have 30 plastic cards, nor filthy money, wallets will be unnecessary, except for one thing – the single smartcard that holds our Bitcoins, identity information and all the other crucially important bits of digital data.
Lastly government leaders will proclaim, “The final problem is solved. Never again will a person lose their card. Everyone must have their chip imbedded just below the skin, on the right hand or forehead.”
Then when the local cop pulls me over for erratic driving (because the stupid chip is itching), the police officer will not ask for license and registration. He will simply scan the chip in my head.
I just hope that when they insert the chip under my skin, it does not resemble a “666.”
Daniel Molyneux is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Fairfield. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.