Target Supposedly Ignored Last Year's Data Breach Alerts for 12 Days
During the U.S. holiday season, Target stores suffered a nearly unprecedented data breach that saw more than 40 million credit card numbers (plus 70 million emails, street addresses, and other personal information) taken from its nearly 2,000 retail stores. Questions undoubtedly arise after something of this magnitude happens, with none bigger than "how?" We now know the hackers installed malware on Target's security and payments system to lift the credit card numbers (and nearly everything attached with them), which was set up before Thanksgiving 2013. On November 30, the hackers just had to figure out their escape plan before launching the attack.
Unfortunately for the hackers, Target's new malware detection software designed by FireEye detected the hackers' plan, and then notified the head office in Minneapolis. At that point, nothing happened. Another malware (the one designed to move the information out of Target's system) was installed on December 2, FireEye noticed it yet again, and when news reached Minneapolis, nothing happened.
For 12 days, Target officials supposedly knew of the data breach that was lifting credit card numbers in the millions, and yet failed to act. It was only until federal investigators notified Target on December 12 that action was taken, with the retail giant finally confirming data was stolen on December 15. The federal investigators had more than just noticed the breach, as they also had the stolen data; something the hackers carelessly left on their dump server.
While FireEye's software is designed to automatically delete malware, Target's security team decided to turn that feature off. It's not unheard of for the human element of a security team to want to be able to have the final say, but it does mean that team needs to act quickly. Target's team did not, and learned the hard way how easily that can screw things up for countless millions of people.
If you're curious about all the details of Target's apparent ineptitude concerning the hack, be sure to hit up the source below. There's a ton to it, but it's well worth the read.