(MOBILE, ALA.) Feb 21 -- How vulnerable is your credit information when you swipe your plastic at a local store? Companies all across the country have taken steps to make things safer by using new technology with something as simple as flipping a switch. It's what's called an encryption code and suprisingly enough, many stores have not yet changed over to using the system. Some of those stores are right in your neighborhood.
We set out to see just who is still vulnerable to a cyber-attack. NBC15 Intelligence Technology (Computer) specialist Adam Hoover tapped into some wireless transmissions. He and many others do this for fun. It's called war driving.
We found two area restaurants with easy access to their wireless network and potentially to your credit card information. Connecting to the network would be illegal. Adam does not go that far. "Subway, it's wide open. Wings not required. Which means what? No encryption required. You could double click that and we're connected."
Some area restaurants are using the weaker encryption known as W-E-P. They should be using the stronger encryption, known as W-P-A.
We also found easy access at a doctor's office, a framing shop, and a local food market, all along one of Mobile's busiest streets. Adam says:"I could have information routed through my lap top back into the network, so credit card numbers could go back in and back out."
The food market is right next to a TJMAX, one of the chain stores that was "hacked into" last year. The good news, the TJMAX network has strong encryption, and so did a Marshalls Department Store nearby.
Businesses with the old encryption signal either don't know they're vulnerable, or think the upgrade is too expensive. Computer Security Specialist Russell Hoover says: "Ive seen wireless networks run anywhere from $39 and they have the latest W-P-A security."
So theres no reason for stores not to make the switch, making sure no one who is unauthorized swipes your credit card number.
We checked with the doctors office, the restaurants, the frame shop and the local food market that were using the old encryption system. None of them would talk on camera with NBC 15News, but all of them told us they would look into getting better wireless security. That might be a good idea.
Credit card companies, like Visa for example, have started fining businesses which do not have up to date computer security. That fine is $25,000 a month.