December 13, 2017

What’s New With The Target Security Breach?

target-breachThe biggest known corporate breach in U.S. history was perpetrated on Target in November, 2013. Hundreds of stories have been written about it in the news, on blogs and magazines. That comes as no surprise considering the current number of customers affected reaches upwards of 100 million.

The looming question in consumers minds remains. Who is responsible for the Target credit and debit card breach?  Brian Krebs,  and American journalist and investigative reporter who runs a computer security website has identified a likely suspect – Andrew Hodrievski of Odessa, Ukraine. Attempts to contact the suspect proved futile, but Krebs was able to email an associate of Hodrievski.  After exchanging emails with the associate, Krebs Security was offered $10,000 not to publish the incriminating information.  Hodrievski has not been arrested or questioned.

How Did They Do It?

The who question may have been answered, but the how question is still somewhat of a mystery to the public. Investigators have determined that the hackers were able to breach Target’s security through a third party vendor. Fazio Mechanical Service provided heating and air conditioning for the stores. After hacking into Fazio’s computer they gained the vendor’s username and password into Target. The hackers then used the same username and password to hack into the point of sale information where all customer information is stored.

Hackers then uploaded software to retrieve customer data for them. They tested the software on a handful of registers. Within two days they had access to a majority of Target’s cash registers and point of sale information. Thus the fraud began. Once they had customer data they sold the data on underground internet sites. The value of this data has gone down significantly as banks have purchased the same data, disabled cards and reissued new ones.

Investigators think the vulnerability was caused by the lack of two factor authentication for remote access, which is required by PCI Data Security Standards. PCI Standards help merchants to secure all Point Of Sale transactions.  Apparently Target used one network for most of their data while they should have been two different networks.  Isolating  3rd party remote access for vendors and customer data would have added another security measure needed and possibly helped prevent this type of security breach.

Latest News

Beth M. Jacob, chief information officer and executive vice president for Target’s technology services resigned from her position on Wednesday, March 5, 2013, just one week after Target posted their 4th quarter losses of $1.5 billion dollars compared to the previous year’s figures. More encouraging news in this case would have been that the criminal behind the attack was arrested.

Consumer Protection

For consumers who are now worried about their accounts being drained by complete strangers there is no magic bullet. The best thing to do at this point is to learn how to set up automatic alerts from your bank to your cell phone any time a transaction on your account occurs. You can then call the bank immediately when you discover any unauthorized transaction and prevent further loss.

10 Tips To Break Bad Banking Habits

burning-moneyYou may be losing money every month because you aren’t aware that some of your basic banking habits can be pricey. Some common mistakes that people keep making come to the attention of banking analysts and are shared with you in this guide to keeping more of your money in your pocket.

Tip #1 – Stay Current With Your Account Fees

bank-feesYou may have opened your bank account 20 years ago when there were no fees charged to you. Take the time to talk to your bank and ask them what fees they can charge your particular type of account. It may be time to change the type of account you currently have.

One woman was getting charged $27 a month and went into the bank to complain. Her account was designed to encourage savings and would charge a $1 per transaction fee each time she made a withdrawal or processed a transaction. Setting up a different type of account would save her $324 a year.

Tip #2 – List Dates Of Your Automatic Withdrawals

calendarNothing is as frustrating as checking your online balance, thinking you have money to spend and then not realizing that an automatic withdrawal is pending. Forgetting about the pending withdrawals can be draining your bank account.

Go online and download a month’s worth of activity. Filter out all the automatic withdrawal transactions and figure out exactly what dates the amounts are deducted. Keep the information in a spreadsheet or print it out and carry it with you.

Tip #3 – Discover The Location Of Approved ATM’s

When you withdraw money from ATM’s that are not associated with your bank, you can get charged fees in varying amounts. The fees might not be big, but they could easily put you into an overdrawn status. Now those fees can be large and will make you cringe.

Find the ATM’s that are near your work, where you dine out and near where you shop and use them. One customer had $50 worth of ATM fees in a month. When asked why he couldn’t find approved ATM’s his response was that he knew where they were, he just couldn’t be bothered with walking across the street. Walking across the street could potentially save him $600 a year.

Tip #4 – Save Loose Change

coin-banksIt may be annoying to carry loose change, but having a strategy to deal with it can really add up to some decent money. When you get home from work or shopping, just toss the loose change in a large jar. When the jar gets full, bring it into the bank and use their coin machine to count it and return you with paper currency. You’ll be surprised how much is really in that jar. Take care of the cents and the dollars will take care of you.

Tip #5 – Check Online Accounts Daily

Face it. Some people don’t even do this monthly. One customer went into her bank and was very upset. She had no money in her account. Upon investigation, it was discovered that she had a joint account with an ex-partner and she had never had his name removed from the account. For five years the partner had been stealing from her account in small increments. It was only when he decided to take it all that she even noticed.

Tip #6 – Reduce The Number Of Accounts

Some of us get creative with our savings or checking accounts, opening too many to even remember what they are for. Balancing and tracking all that information is very time consuming and for most people too much of a hassle to handle.

Then there are those people who are flattered when they get a sales pitch to open a new credit card. They think it is cool that someone else says they have great credit so they open another account. Having too many credit cards provides you with too many temptations.

Limit the number of accounts you have. Trim down the number of your credit cards to make them easier to manage. Trim down the number of checking and savings accounts if tracking and managing them becomes too easy to make costly mistakes.

Tip # 7 – Distinguish Between Wants and Needs

spendingThe difference between what we think we need and what we actually need, can be enormous. Overspending can lead us to overdrawn account fees, excessive credit card use and a feeling of being out of control.

Advertisers are relentless when they pitch us so we really have to be aware of our own needs. Designer clothes, handbags, eating out, multiple Ipads and cell phones may have their appeal, but they can’t be classified as needs. Spend money on your needs first.

Tip # 8 – Maintain Minimum Balances

If your bank requires you to have at least $300 in your account, find out what fees they can charge if you drop below that amount. If you have believe you are entitled to spend money if you see it in your account, take a new approach. Deposit the minimum balance and in your record keeping system don’t add that amount into your perceived balance. That way the money will always be there. Just leave it alone.

Tip #9 – Check Your Excess Withdrawal Fees

Some accounts will penalize you for withdrawing money. They are designed to encourage you to save and can charge per transaction. Ignoring the terms of the account incurs more expense than you will ever earn on the interest.

Tip – #10 – Set Up Mobile Alerts

text-bankingSome banks will let you set up text alerts that go directly to your mobile phone. You can text in requests to see your account balances, account activity, make transfers and find ATM locations near you.

Alerts can also be set up to send you a text under specific conditions that you choose. Remind yourself when your balance falls below a threshold or learn when a deposit has been made.

Use technology to make your life simpler, avoid bank fees and live a happier life.

What bad habits do you want to break?

Are Banking Jobs Worth Dying For?

Bank Of America Employee Found Dead

moritz-erhardt-
Entrance into the competitive financial job market is sometimes accomplished through internships. Recently Moritz Erhardt, an intern for Bank of America in their City of London offices was found dead in his apartment.

Erhardt was employed in the firm’s investment-bank division, in a 7 week internship contract. Erhardt’s salary during this time was forty-two hundred dollars a month.

Friends of Erhnardt’s reported that he been forced to work through the night eight times in a two week period in an effort to secure long term work with the firm. It seems that Erhardt was personally driven to be the best in many areas of his life, a habit that started in elementary school. He was always in over-drive to perform well.

He had recently worked through several nights and had not slept for 72 hours. The intern had an epileptic condition which also added to the tragedy.

So there are several motivating factors that push people to work beyond their limits. A strong desire to accomplish something for themselves or for their companies can push people past their reasonable points. Another desire is to advance their careers to assure high salaries in the finance industry.

What ever the reasons people have for over working, it is the employers who need to be aware of how intensely their employees are driven and try to put limits in place to help them stay reasonable. One might wonder if a workplace culture that acknowledged workers’ needs as much as employers’ bottom lines might have helped prevent the tragedy of Erhardt’s death.

Bank of America is looking into the causes of his death as well as looking at what they can do to change employee working conditions. Nothing is as important as assuring good working conditions and reasonable work expectations in the corporate world. This tragedy is heart breaking for many and can serve as a stepping stone to change policies to prevent this from happening again.

We want to offer condolences to the family in this sad time of loss.

Preventing Tragedies Like This

Be sure to take care of yourself if you know you are putting in too many hours. Keep life activities in balance by saving time for enjoying life with family and friends. Get required sleep and eat a healthy diet. Without those basics, life can get scarey and have bad outcomes.

Upset Business man Sitting on Briefcase

Bank of America In Utah

In the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch CFO Outlook survey, U.S. financial officers gave the economy its highest score in five years and were “significantly more confident about economic growth in 2013.” This new economic outlook may bring consumers to the investment table.

Have you considered investing in the Bank of America? You may want to do some research to find out about the bank’s assets, investing philosophy and what they are doing in your own backyard.

In a report published by the bank on January 1, 2013, small businesses in the state of Utah were granted $61.7 million in new credit. That figure is up from 2011 by 35%.

What about home loans for people in Utah? In 2012, Bank of America has provided 9,381 Utah customers with home mortgages. This figure includes 1,267 home loan modifications.
bank-of-america
What about helping communities in Utah? During 2012, $292,980 was given in grants and matching gifts to help local nonprofit community
organizations develop and grow.

What about donating to Utah charities? The Bank of America Charitable Foundation has donated $91,980 to match employee contributions to their favorite Utah charities. Employees pledged $19,342 to the local chapter of the United Way, which helps provide people with food and shelter as well as aid in financial education. Local employees also donated 1,388 volunteer hours to local communities.

What about helping the environment? During the years between 2007 through 2012, Bank of America contributed more than $37 million dollars to help renewable energy and energy efficiency projects as well as supporting nonprofits trying to focus on climate change.
As of January 1, 2013, one of their objectives is to provide financing of $50 billion for environmental improvements.

What about helping our American troops? They have a program that donates $1 for each written or photo contribution you make to them. Officially the money goes to the “Wounded Warrior Project.”

What about their debt? Recent quarterly reports say that their long-term debt has decreased by $18 billion dollars.

What about their expenses and spending? Expenses declined by $13 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2013.

Gather the information you need before investing in any company. Hopefully this article will give you some idea of what Bank of America is doing in Utah. What are they doing in your state?