Neiman Marcus, Target Data Breaches: 8 Facts

A cyberattack campaign, likely coordinated, breached data from Target, Neiman Marcus, and at least three other retailers.

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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User Rank: Apprentice
1/15/2014 | 7:51:46 AM
Re: All that spying and the Police & Security State let's another massive crime happen.
There is plenty of blame to pass around.  What amazes me is that 40 million cards could be stolen and the banks didn't notice a trend in their customers spending habits changing all of a sudden.  I highly doubt that they were only using a handful of cards at a time after the breach.  Secondly and I'm not saying this is the best plan but it would surprise me if banks have a team that is out there trying to buy stolen card numbers in order to head off any attacks.  I know if I was running a large bank I would have a team that worked undercover to buy card numbers so that when there were big leaks like this I could quickly shut off the taps.  From the retailer's side it makes me wonder if the group that did the hacking used the same vulnerability to access all of the affected networks. 
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Ninja
1/14/2014 | 8:11:45 PM
Re: Chips ahoy
I'd like to see more options for requiring additional authentication, like a mobile phone confirmation step, added as an option at online and retail stores.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/14/2014 | 3:39:49 PM
Re: All that spying and the Police & Security State let's another massive crime happen.
Not that breached retailers shouldn't bear the brunt of the costs associated, the card issues are also to blame for not keeping current with card technology, such as Chip and Pin (required in Canada) and one-time card numbers.  The card issuers are cheap bastards that won't spend on the more secure cards.  Shame!
User Rank: Apprentice
1/14/2014 | 11:31:26 AM
Re: Chips ahoy
Great question. The short answer is that the attack could still have succeeded. That's because the type of malware tied to the Target breach scraped the POS device memory, which must handle acquired data in plaintext format.

So an attack against a region that uses the smartcards to which you refer -- known as EMV, and branded as "chip & PIN" in the UK and Ireland -- would theoretically have been able to steal cardholder data.

But attackers or buyers of the stolen card data would not -- I believe -- be able to use this data to create fake cards for making in-person purchases or withdrawals. That's because POS systems are programmed to not accept "swipes" for EMV-compatible cards, as a fraud-protection measure. As a result, attackers would also need the four-digit PIN code. (That said, one risk is that attackers could rewrite the firmware on the EMV-compatible POS device itself. But that's a different scenario.)

Would-be fraudsters with EMV card data could still use the data for online or remote purchases, provided that additional defenses weren't in place. Some European banks and card providers, for example, require that cardholders register a secret word (say, FOOTBALL), and then ask for specific characters of that word to be used to authorize any online transactions (such as asking for 1st, 2nd, and 5th characters of the secret word, so F+O+B, on one instance, and a different set of characters the next time).

So like all types of security, the more layered the defenses, the better the likelihood of preventing these types of attacks.
Jim Donahue
Jim Donahue,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/14/2014 | 10:19:54 AM
Chips ahoy
Mat-- Would smartchips, as used on European credit cards, have prevented this?
User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2014 | 5:16:33 PM
Re: All that spying and the Police & Security State let's another massive crime happen.
It's a good idea.  But industry CEOs, and their lawyers, have generally rejected the idea, in part because they would need to share information with the government that might compromise competitve information; and in part because of concerns that such private-public cooperation could raise the risks for corporations of getting slammed with lawsuits.

User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2014 | 2:19:04 PM
Re: All that spying and the Police & Security State let's another massive crime happen.
Yes, but what about the multiples of terrorist attempts, most of them unpublicized for security reasons, that "The Security State" has prevented? And The Security State isn't responsible for stopping massive credit card information theft at the likes of Target and Neiman Marcus. Target and Neiman Marcus are responsible for that. If the government were to stick its nose in those affairs, you'd be citing them for doing just that, no?

User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2014 | 12:56:14 PM
All that spying and the Police & Security State let's another massive crime happen.
The Security State spends billions, spies on all of us, infiltrates groups and still they can't prevent Oklahoma, WTC, 9/11, London Metro, Spanish train, Boston maraton and now this massive credit card theft. 

Maybe they need to rethink their focus and tactics. Maybe they should leave the peace activists and the environmentalist alone. Maybe they need to get a little smarter about who they are frisking and who they are asking to take off their belt at the airports.

Maybe they could stop being so focused on recreational drugs and actually do something about financial, banking and credit crimes.

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