Target Hackers Snuck In Through Ventilation Vendor

US retailing giant Target’s recent mega-breach was the result of an initial attack on a refrigeration, heating and air conditioning partner, according to security blogger Brian Krebs.

Credentials were stolen from Fazio Mechanical Services, which were then used to gain access to the Target network, sources told KrebsOnSecurity.

The US Secret Service paid a visit to Fazio, admitted president Ross Fazio, but few other details have emerged.

Target breach aftermath

Using third parties is a typical method sophisticated attackers use to hit supposedly well-protected targets. One of the best known cases involved RSA, the security vendor which was hacked as part of an attempt to infiltrate defence contractor Lockheed Martin.

In the Target case, it could be that Fazio had access to the retailer’s network to help monitor the ventilation and temperature of stores.

Sources speaking to Krebs also claimed the Target attackers uploaded their malware to point of sale systems between 15 and 28 November, a period in which they tested the malicious software.

It’s believed data on 40 million credit and debit cards were pilfered by the malware. That information was then dropped in servers across the globe, from the US to Brazil. The perpetrators are understood to emanate from Eastern Europe or Russia.

Target is in the process of upgrading its systems to offer more chip and PIN services, which provide better security to customers.

The company is expected to suffer hundreds of millions in losses as a result of the breach.

The Target breach has now escalated to such a level that the US Department of Justice has been brought in to investigate.

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Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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