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Target Breach: 10 Facts
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MelvinGaines
MelvinGaines,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 12:37:56 PM
Re: When?
I think we may need to consider that this was an exceptional breach that likely occurred internally. I think it is entirely plausible that the information was not leaked immediately so as to not tip off whoever was causing the internal breach to take place. I don't ever recall the Secret Service being involved with previous credit card breaches (to my knowledge).  In my mind, whether the public knew about it within 4 days or 7 days doesn't really matter that much if you look at the overall number of 40 million. Only a small fraction of that number will be affected.
cjoshdoll
cjoshdoll,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 3:40:05 PM
Lets Try Some Facts.....
First:

"..."The fact that three-digit CVV security codes were compromised shows they were being stored..."

I'm not sure why data storage is even mentioned in the story, much less the encryption piece.  The fact that the breech is limited to a 3-4 week window of time would clearly indicate that the card data was stolen at the time of purchase, NOT stolen from a database. Thus, lodging the claim that Target was doing a "no-no" by storing ccv data, is just slander, IMO.  If this data was stolen from a database, where Target was saving CC data that they should not be saving, then A) there wouldn't be such a short window of time (you don't compromise a window of records in a database, it's all or nothing) and B) its highly likely that target.com's CC data would have been compromised too.

 

Secondly, the throwing the encryption for data in transit subject in with the encryption for data at rest issue is poor timing.  PCI requirements for encryption are different for data at rest and data in motion, and CC data is NOT required to be encrypted, according to the PCI DSS, unless it is traveling over a public network (the internet) or over wireless networks.  In fact, most banks / acquirers can't even support end-to-end encryption for CC transactions.  There are a very limited number of acquirers that can support E2E encryption, and most of those are new niche businesses that are providing a new model for transaction encryption.

 

While it's easy for these "experts" to sit back and say how everything should be encrypted and secured tight as can be, its careless to make accusations that Target wasn't doing everything that they could to prevent this.  We are talking about a system for credit processing that pre-dates the internet, and the everything is connected world.  Businesses are trying to play catchup to secure these systems while leveraging new technology to make their supply chain more efficient and reduce costs with tech.

 

I have NO ties to Target, and I am not here to defend them.  I am however the lead Security Architect for a mid-size, national retailer, in charge of PCI compliance and CC transaction security, so I have personal experience living up to the PCI DSS, and trying to balance business requirements with customer protection.  I have no issue burning them at the stake if they are to blame, but let's get the FACTS before we indict Target.  There are PLENTY of scenarios where Target could have been doing EVERYTHING right, and still have this happen.

 

My $0.02
rradina
rradina,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 6:48:16 PM
Re: Lets Try Some Facts.....
Why does the time period imply theft at time of purchase?  If I was designing a POS/cash management system that required time to clear transactions, balance accounts and reverse returns, I'd keep recent transactions for some time period and then purge them. There is also the data warehouse side of things. Sometimes mapping and cleansing routines are updated resulting in numbers that don't balance. Often data gets reloaded to correct such issues.  It's plausible that this could have been an inside job where someone copied a temporal 30-day tlog database to a thumb drive and walked out the door.

Of course all of these activities rarely require the full account info.  Generally PCI requires truncation to store transactions but Target may have demonstrated a mitigating factor by encrypting all transactions.  Thats why its probably an inside job... someone with access to the necessary decryption information.

Another article I read said the cvv codes were not stolen which meant the stolen accounts are not useful for most on-line purchases.

IMO ... regrdless of this article's title, we don't really know what happened yet.
PaulS681
PaulS681,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 8:10:25 PM
Re: Lets Try Some Facts.....
 

I think that cjoshdoll makes alot of sense. The fact that they are alerting anyone who used a CC at target between 11/27 and 12/15 indicates to me that the numbers were not stored but stolen at the time of the transaction. The time period makes perfect sense to back that reasoning up. If this was database data that was stolen don't you think it would impact many more people?
rradina
rradina,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2013 | 11:38:20 PM
Re: Lets Try Some Facts.....
Don't you think 40 million is a lot of unique shoppers for such a short period?  There are ~320m people in the US.  ~74m are minors leaving ~250m adults.

That means 15% of the adult population used a card at Target within a few week period.  Some folks used multiple cards but not everyone has cards. Many economically challenged don't even have bank accounts.  Some folks still write checks or pay with cash. Target isn't everywhere and some folks don't shop there.

If it was a network tap, they would have a hard time pinning down exact dates. It seems more plausible someone copied files which made it easy to know exact dates and accounts.  As I said, it makes sense to keep recent transactions for dispute/clearing/reload purposes.  The entire DB doesnt have to be compromised. In fact the temporary log may have been an easier target (no pun intended) than the master database.  It also shoukd have been truncated data in the master DB. There is also no guarantee the on-line and in-store POS go to the same balancing cash flow system.

I have 12 years of IT experience in retailing alone and have been through PCI audits since they started.

 

 
cjoshdoll
cjoshdoll,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2013 | 9:28:06 AM
Re: Lets Try Some Facts.....
Agree, we don't know what happened.  I guess I am flustered with the "industry experts" throwing around as much blatant BS as they are - it's just adding to what I can the "hysteria news" angle.


I agree that there could be a tlog db, however it seems unlikely that you would store the entire track 2 data, including ccv1, for that purpose, even for target who is a data mining giant, that has admittedly tied credit transactions back to a user profile (See: How Target knew a teen girl was pregnant.)
 
Without debating the likelihood of a tlog DB with full card data, just the fact that the entire track 2 data was stolen, /seems/ to point to theft at swipe.  But again, you are correct, we just don't know, and I personally am afraid, we may never find out (publically.)


As someone who's job is to prevent this stuff, I have a number of concerns.  There should be a requirement to release the report generated by the forensic investigators, so that other businesses can protect against similar attacks.  I believe it should also be public to find out a company's PCI compliance status and who provided their ROC.  I have a sneaking suspicion that they got theirs from the firm that essentially charges 3 times as much, and is 3x more lenient in their audit (but let me be clear, that is MY ASSUMPTION, and even if true does NOT mean Target did something wrong to cause this.) 

 

Which leads to my real point - everyone is pointing the finger at Target, before we know anything.  There are just too many possibilities to be able to say Target is at fault here.  I'm not here to defend them, I have no stake in it, I'm just tired of reading all of the baseless accusations and reading the "experts" mostly incorrect opinions.  Unfortunately I can't just tune it out and not read the stories, because it impacts my daily job....

 
PaulS681
PaulS681,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2013 | 9:42:29 AM
Re: Lets Try Some Facts.....
 Let's not forget that this is the busiest time of year for shopping so 40 million seems reasonable to me.

it was estimated that close to 100 million people would shop during the black Friday weekend alone. Everyone entitles to their opinion. I have read numerous articles about the data being stolen from the POS devices as customers swiped their cards. We don't know exactly how they did it and in all likelihood we won't know.
rradina
rradina,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2013 | 10:26:37 AM
Re: Lets Try Some Facts.....
I completely agree that Target may have done everything PCI demands and that they don't deserve speculation.  Personally, I think it's an inside job.  Someone had the garage door code, knew the occupants were on vacation and walked out with the family jewels.  That doesn't mean Target is off the hook but some trust is required for employees to do their job and as recent events prove, even the NSA is vulnerable to this attack vector.

FYI... Another site's article claimed the cvv code was not compromised.

The last retailer who employed me used a third party in ~1,000 stores to provide payment processing.  It was AES-encrypted and also sent HTTPS from pin pad swipe to the external processor who then connected to the various clearing banks/processors.  Only the truncated number was stored in the TLOG. The pin pads had a kill switch if they were opened and the third party actively tracked serial numbers, warned if an unauthorized device was present and refused to authorize payments from it.  (BTW a popular scam is for a "repair company" to call the local manager and pretend they were from "corporate" so they could schedule an appointment to replace one of the pin pads that was "reporting a problem".)

Unfortunately if communication was down even this system had potential weakness.  It could be configured to check a local bad card list and authorize up to a certain dollar amount with store and forward.  Although the track data it stored was encrypted, it was on the local POS lane which could then become a target.  However 40m card numbers would require compromising all POS lanes, everwhere and zapping redundant MPLS links to the third party to force store and forward mode.  That's an almost impossible target that only yields thousands of small, strongly encrypted files.  It's far easier to find something centralized and "inside the garage".
samicksha
samicksha,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/27/2013 | 2:12:20 AM
Re: Lets Try Some Facts.....
I guess it's more than just Target Breach, i recently read that it was not only Target-issued credit cards who were affected, infact customers who used any credit or debit card could be affected.
virsingh211
virsingh211,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/27/2013 | 4:24:46 AM
Re: Lets Try Some Facts.....
I guess it's time to make Chip-Pin, OTP like security mandatory for users, i guess it may sound irritating but precaution better than cure.
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