Target probe eyes overseas hackers; stolen cards for sale online

WASHINGTON Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:55pm EST

Merchandise baskets are lined up outside a Target department store in Palm Coast, Florida, December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Merchandise baskets are lined up outside a Target department store in Palm Coast, Florida, December 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Investigators believe that overseas hackers were responsible for the cyber attack on U.S. retailer Target Corp that compromised up to 40 million payment cards during the first three weeks of the holiday shopping season, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The person, who was not authorized to talk publicly about the matter, declined to say how the hackers got in or where investigators believe they are based, saying investigators don't want to show their hand to the criminals.

Meanwhile the blogger who first broke news of the breach, Brian Krebs, reported that data stolen from Target had begun flooding underground markets that sell stolen credit cards.

KrebsOnSecurity.com reported on Friday that cards stolen from Target were being offered at "card shops" for rates starting at $20 each and going to more than $100.

Target has said that hackers accessed data on up to 40 million payment cards over 19 days through Dec 15 in the second-largest retail breach in U.S. history. It is not known who is behind the attack or how they accessed Target's network.

A Secret Service spokesman declined to comment on the investigation, which the agency is running.

The retailer reported the breach on Thursday, a day after Krebs broke news of the attack. Target has declined to say how its systems were compromised and has provided few other details about the case.

Target sought to reassure customers that it was safe to shop at its stores and encouraged them to do so by offering 10 percent discounts off most merchandise on Saturday and Sunday, the last weekend before Christmas.

"We're in this together, and in that spirit, we are extending a 10 percent discount - the same amount our team members receive," Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel in a statement on Target's website.

Groceries are eligible for the discount, though video games, gift cards, mobile phones and a few other items are excluded.

Steinhafel said the company would offer free credit monitoring services and downplayed the impact the breach might have on customers.

"We want our guests to understand that just because they shopped at Target during the impacted time frame, it doesn't mean they are victims of fraud," he said. "In fact, in other similar situations, there are typically low levels of actual fraud."

He promised that the guests would "not be held financially responsible for any credit or debit card fraud."

Separately, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said in a written statement that "we are hearing very few reports of actual fraud."

She said stolen information was limited to data stored on the magnetic strip.

The hackers did not obtain PIN numbers used to access ATMs or the three or four-digit security codes that are printed on cards to verify online purchases, Snyder said.

She also said Target has provided exposed card numbers to Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Those companies are in turn providing the information to the financial institutions that issue them.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball, Dhanya Skariachan and Jim Finkle; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Bob Burgdorfer, Andrew Hay)

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Comments (12)
MikeBarnett wrote:
The advantage for Target is that credit lines for most cards are about $5000, so Target stores can report sales of $200 billion plus the legitimate sales for a very merry christmas shopping season. This comes at a time when christmas started with one shopping weekend less than normal, and two weekends were lost to ice and snow. These hackers will be able to give Target extremely high sales figures although profit margins after all of the legal issues are resolved may be much lower than Target would prefer. Merry christmas and a happy ho! ho! ho!

Dec 19, 2013 7:32pm EST  --  Report as abuse
MissDolittle wrote:
“It was not immediately clear what percent of the transactions at its brick and mortar stores had been compromised but the company said its online business had not been affected.”

Dec 19, 2013 9:05pm EST  --  Report as abuse
patsy50 wrote:
ccccccccccccc

Dec 20, 2013 6:12am EST  --  Report as abuse
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