More than 110 million Target customers had their credit-card information stolen because at least one employee of a heating and air-conditioning contractor succumbed to an email phishing scheme, cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs reported Wednesday.
The revelation, if true, is the strongest indication yet of what went wrong since Krebs first exposed the massive heist of consumer financial data at the national retail giant late last year, a startling cyberattack that has prompted intense congressional inquiry. Neiman Marcus and other chains have also recently been victimized, though it is not believed that the perpetrators are the same.
Last week, Krebs reported that hackers infiltrated Target’s network by swiping the login credentials of Fazio Mechanical Services, a Pennsylvania-based contractor.
Now, anonymous sources tell Krebs that credentials “were stolen in an email malware attack at Fazio that began at least two months before thieves started stealing card data from thousands of Target cash registers.” It appears that the culprits used a password-stealing bot known as Citadel to get the job done.
Fazio, in response to its sudden notoriety last week, sent out a statement explaining that it had been “the victim of a sophisticated cyberattack operation.” But Krebs notes that the company’s defense against malicious attacks was a free version of a somewhat impotent anti-malware program, which “is made explicitly for individual users and its license prohibits corporate use.”
Members of Congress are calling for a bill to create a national reporting standard for data breaches similar to the one that hit Target. Retailers and financial institutions would be required to notify government and consumers of breaches when they occur.
The new revelations arrive on a day when the White House rolled out a set of voluntary guidelines intended to help businesses defend themselves against hackers.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”