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Attacks/Breaches

Target Ignored Data Breach Alarms

Target's security team reviewed -- and ignored -- urgent warnings from threat-detection tool about unknown malware spotted on the network.

Image credit: Jay Reed on Flickr.
Image credit: Jay Reed on Flickr.

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DarrenM555
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DarrenM555,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2014 | 12:20:45 PM
They ignored it?
Between this and the "thigh gap" fiasco, it's a wonder they keep any customers. I don't shop there very often but I'll certainly think twice about giving them any of my hard-earned money in the future.
JoeS149
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0%
JoeS149,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2014 | 12:35:59 PM
Target Security team is inexperienced and or incompetent.
A competent IT and security individual  would have been in code red attempting to stop the attack. The fact the target "security team" did not recognize the threat shows a lack of technical understanding and/or experieence.

It has been a number of years  since I have done system security however a simple  thing to do is filter out all IP addresses outside of the needed range. Certain  countries(i.e. China, Russia) have been threats for years and years. The Target "security team" didn't understand this?


On the positive side, maybe now the non-tech world which is using technology to make money will spend more money on better security.
Somedude8
50%
50%
Somedude8,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2014 | 1:01:57 PM
Re: Target Security team is inexperienced and or incompetent.
I am not so sure that IP filtering would have helped at with the infiltration, since the penetration vector was through a contractor, unless that HVAC contractor was in the blacklist, in which case they wouldn't have been able to do their jobs. IP filtering would of course not help with exfilatration.

This development really highlights the growing difficulty of filtering the signal from the noise in an age of exponentially expanding volume of data. Its like many of us are falling in to the same trap that amateur website owners often do: If everything is in all caps, people will read everything because all caps means its important right? I would not be at all surprised if the same people that evaluated the alarm mentioned in the article were also monitoring alarms from countless workstations and who knows what else. Doesn't surprise me at all that this got lost in the shuflle. But it still terrifies me!

This also underscores the near uselessness of the PCI spec. It is not a something to use to avoid a breach, its something to use to reduce the chance of a lawsuit. "Hey! We were PCI compliant! Its not our fault!"
hhendrickson274
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50%
hhendrickson274,
User Rank: Strategist
3/14/2014 | 1:43:59 PM
These stories all present misleading or incomplete data with sensational titles
I don't know any more than what is in the various articles written about this, but everyone is some quick to jump on the Target team for reviewing and ignoring the alarms.  And articles like this with sensational titles don't help. That's really disingenuos without understanding the entire circumstances around the situation.  No meniton is made to the volume of alerts that may have been coming out of the FireEye system (or other systems they had deployed) to know if this was seen as normal noise or not.  Was that team used to seeing alerts similar to this that turned out to be false positives or of little significance? 


What I can fault them for would be not taking at least basic precautions like blocking outbound access to the IP that the malware was communicating with, and sending a sample off to their A/V vendor for analysis and inclusion in signature updates.  I can't say that either of those would have really made much of an impact, but I'm not sure how much business Target does with users in Russia to understand why they would feel outbound connections from their POS to a Russian based IP wouldn't be suspicious.  Maybe they did some of these things, I have no idea. 

I guess what my point is, let's not rush to judgement before we have all the facts.  They are only coming out in dribs and drabs at this point.  Hindsight is 20/20 and it's easy to be critic.  I'd rather we tried to be constructive and learned from this event.
ke4roh
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50%
ke4roh,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2014 | 2:17:47 PM
Image credit?
Wikimedia Commons did not create this image.  The image was taken by Flickr user Jay Reed who requires attribution to HIM for its distribution.  Wikimedia says that here. Please credit the photographer and copyright owner rather than the venue on which you found the picture!
Charlie Babcock
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50%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Ninja
3/14/2014 | 2:25:44 PM
Does automated security watch for the right things?
I'd like to know the context: how many total alerts did FireEye provide during the hour it signaled the intrusion? How did it distinguish those that applied to the intrusion. I woujld think a notice that malware was being fanned out to multiple Target servers should be made to stand out. If you know the malware won't automatically be eliminated, what's the action plan to get it out of there? Wsa there any alert on 11GBs of internal data flowing out to Russia? Even in context, I'm afraid Target's response is going to be judged and judged harshly. Continuous sensitive credit card data should have triggered alarms that normal transaction data wouldn't. If it can happen to anyone with a large number of alerts pouring at them, then we're in more trouble than I realized.
VWalker
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50%
VWalker,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2014 | 2:50:00 PM
Re: Image credit?
Thank you - I've fixed the attribution here and on a previous story where we used this image. Vicki Walker, News Editor.
Laurianne
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50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2014 | 3:15:40 PM
Re: Target Security team is inexperienced and or incompetent.
"This also underscores the near uselessness of the PCI spec. It is not a something to use to avoid a breach, its something to use to reduce the chance of a lawsuit." True PCI is about covering your business. The retail data breaches are causing pain, but healthcare data breaches may someday make these look tame by comparison.
Thomas Claburn
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0%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Ninja
3/14/2014 | 3:42:04 PM
Re: Target Security team is inexperienced and or incompetent.
I wonder whether this incident will help retailers understand that retaining credit card data is more trouble than its worth. "No Data" should become the next "Big Data."
Duane T
100%
0%
Duane T,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2014 | 6:58:36 PM
You need more security that tech that tells you you've been infected
PCI and Security are like insurance, unfortunately Target spent $M on detection and left the response process to manual labor. But your insurance shouldn't just tell you that you're sick. This is like having insurance that just tells you that you indeed have an illness. They should have also spent at least 10% of that budget on process and technology to automatically investigate, prioritize, and lock down/contain their detected threats. You would think that they could have asked FireEye who they recommend for automated incident response. The tech is out there and available, and all this craziness and costs could be avoided.

Think of it this way, Target probably saw 1000s if not 10s of thousands of alerts each day, and they know it. They probably detect more than they can process effectively, and the result is that malware gets through. They probably could have spent a fraction more to get automated incident response technology in house.
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