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Target attack details suggest organized crime tie, WSJ reports

Jim Hammerand

Digital editor- Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal
The skilled hackers who stole personal information and payment data from Target shoppers may have ties to organized crime in the former Soviet Union, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Investigators found Russian language in the malicious computer code used to pilfer personal information from Target check-out lanes and said the attack didn't just go after the Minneapolis-based retailer.
The Wall Street Journal said the partly-Russian code had been on the Internet black market since last spring and cited former U.S. officials as saying those details suggest an organized crime link.
The report said the operational sophistication of the attack stood out from other electronic crimes and is indicative of the kind of attacks that will come in the future, NBC News reported. The network explained how the malicious software worked:
"The insidious file triggers a 'hook' and starts to suck up information on transactions in the memory of the cash register system or the server that controls it. Since the data on credit cards is encrypted, the system works by getting it in the authorization stage while it is in the memory of the POS system, unencrypted."

Is Target security breach tied to Russian organized crime?

Staff St. Louis Business Journal

The security breach at Target over the holidays apparently was part of a sophisticated international hacking campaign planned against several retailers, according to a report from federal and private investigators.
The report, which was sent to financial-services companies and retailers, revealed that parts of the computer code used in the Target hack had been on the Internet's black market since last spring and were partly written in Russian, sources told the Wall Street Journal. These details indicate the attack may be tied to organized crime in the former Soviet Union, according to the newspaper.
"What's really unique about this one is it's the first time we've seen the attack method at this scale," Tiffany Jones, a senior vice president at iSight, told the Wall Street Journal. Dallas-based cybersecurity firm iSight has been working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on investigating the incident.

On Thursday, Neiman Marcus said there is no indication its recent security breach was related to Target's.

Danger at Sochi 2014: All the Shakedowns, Setbacks—and That Pesky Islamic Insurgency

By Vanity Fair

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which—at $50 billion and counting—will be the most expensive Olympic Games ever. (The Games in Vancouver, site of the previous Winter Olympics, cost only $7 billion.) They’re intended to showcase the power and order of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, but as Vanity Fair contributor Brett Forrest reports in the February issue, the Olympics are also highlighting its problems with organized crime, state corruption, and terrorist threats.
For one thing, the region and its myriad construction and infrastructure projects have become a magnet for criminal elements drawn from all over the world. When the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) awarded the 2014 Winter Olympics to Russia on July 4, 2007, the state of Russia began moving billions of dollars into the region. Shortly after the decision was made, Ded Khasan, an ethnic Kurd from Georgia and the long-acknowledged head of Russian organized crime, assigned one of his lieutenants to shake down construction firms that had won Olympic contracts.
Khasan’s network also took a cut from labor agreements, real-estate transactions, and goods flowing through the seaport. The only problem for Khasan was a fight-for-supremacy feud with a fellow Georgian, Tariel Oniani, known as Taro, who assumingly gunned down the lieutenant, and, it is widely alleged, Khasan himself last January. How much of Russia’s $50 billion has gone to fund Olympics-related activity and how much covers kickbacks, bribes, and shakedowns is anyone’s guess, Forrest writes. “I have never seen a budget in Sochi,” a foreigner who has worked as a senior manager for several Olympics tells Forrest.