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Corporate Hackers Target Weak Link: the Supply Chain
Corporate Hackers Target Weak Link: the Supply Chain

By Jim Spencer
February 16, 2014 3:30PM

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Hackers gained access to Target's computer systems through the stolen credentials of a heating and refrigeration contractor. Even as companies spend millions to bolster the security of their networks, the access that necessary outside vendors are given doesn't get nearly enough attention, several information security professionals say.

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PCI standards don't require card encryption at the point of sale, which means there's a millisecond after a swipe when information is out in the open, unencrypted.

"The key message here is to understand the security controls your vendors and business partners have in place when allowing them access to your network," said Chad Boeckmann, CEO of Secure Digital Solutions in Minneapolis. "I know many big companies conduct those exercises, but sometimes those exercises aren't conducted frequently enough or they're not conducted thoroughly enough."

Cybercrime cost $113 billion in 2013 and exposed 435 million people to information theft, Frank Rosch of the computer security software firm Symantec told the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing last week. Targeted attacks on computer systems such as Target's are expanding, he added.

Isle, at Adventium Labs, says a breach was probably inevitable given the Secret Service's description of the criminals as relentless, well-organized and sophisticated.

"With unlimited people, time and money, they will get in," said Isle. "Target may or may not have screwed up, but the people who came at them were good."

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© 2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.

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