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Hackers Using Mobile Devices To Expose Sensitive Information In Cyber Attacks

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) -- Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels and the University of Maryland. They're all major retailers and institutions hit by hackers.

So how are they getting all this data?

Linh Bui speaks with a security expert about why these cyber attacks keep happening.

Cyber attacks pose a threat to consumers, businesses and governments. It's a problem that's growing at a rapid pace.

One massive breach after another. At Target and Neiman Marcus, hackers stole the credit card information of millions of shoppers. Arts and crafts store Michaels is also investigating a possible cyber attack.

"I would think they'd have a security system that couldn't be breached that easily. So yes. Yes, I'm concerned," said Roosevelt Brown.

And at the University of Maryland, a data breach exposed sensitive info, like Social Security numbers, for more than 300,000 faculty, staff and students.

"Technology brings great advantages to our society. In this case, there's also risk," said Norm Willox, CEO, Bluewater International.

Identity theft expert Norm Willox says hackers are becoming more organized. Their attacks are more sophisticated.

"The problem is they work in a governless society. They can operate anywhere in the world and we operate within the rules and boundaries and laws that we live under. So they have the advantage," Willox said.

So far this year, cyber attacks are up 30 percent compared to 2013. One of the main reasons why? Mobile devices.

Over the holiday season, over 40 percent of all e-commerce was done on mobile devices.

"This mobile device has a lot of information on it. It's my wallet. It's my cell phone. It's my computer," Willox said.

Concerned Marylanders are taking precautions.

"I just check my statement a couple of times a week just to make sure there are no fraudulent charges," said Thomas Moyer.

"I don't tend to use my card too much. I use cash more so than anything else," Carol Morrison said.

Experts say be careful and expect more cyber attacks.

The University of Maryland released a statement about the breach, saying:

"The University of Maryland continues to work around the clock to the address the data breach. Law enforcement authorities including the U.S. Secret Service are investigating and we have partnered with an outside cybersecurity firm to assist our computer forensic analysis. We are doing everything possible to discover how this happened so we can prevent further attacks.

UMD is offering free credit protection services for all affected persons.  Beginning Tuesday, February 25, individuals may call 1-866-274-3891 to verify if their records were compromised and immediately activate this service.

We understand this breach is causing concern and consternation.  Please know that we are doing everything possible to ensure the protection of our community's personal information as we move forward."

For more information on how you can protect your privacy, click here.

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