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Target data hack linked to Pennsylvania HVAC company

Customers crowd the entrance to a Target store

NEW YORK (AP) - A western Pennsylvania heating and refrigeration contractor that services Target retail stores said it was the victim of a "sophisticated cyberattack operation" that may have allowed hackers to infiltrate Target's computer systems and steal millions of debit and credit card numbers.

Fazio Mechanical Services Inc., of Sharpsburg, Pa., issued the statement after Internet security bloggers identified it as the third-party vendor through which hackers accessed Target's computer systems. Target has said it believes hackers initially gained access to its vast computer network through one of its vendors. Once inside, the hackers moved through the retailer's network and eventually installed malicious software into the company's point-of-sale system.

The series of hacks, experts believe, gave thieves access to some 40 million debit and credit card numbers, along with the personal information of another 70 million people.

U.S. Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary confirmed that Fazio's business is being investigated, but wouldn't provide details.

Molly Snyder, spokeswoman for Minneapolis-based Target, declined comment citing the ongoing investigation.

Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh referred calls to their counterparts in Minnesota, where Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Schleicher, acting criminal division chief, declined comment on the Fazio link, in particular, and the overall investigation.

"Like Target, we are a victim of a sophisticated cyberattack operation," Ross Fazio, the company's president and owner, said in a statement. Fazio's company is cooperating with the Secret Service and Target to identify the possible cause of the breach, he said.

Fazio Mechanical Services also denied reports on blogs and other outlets that said the company remotely monitored heating, cooling and refrigeration for Target, which has about 1,800 stores nationwide.

Fazio's statement explained that his company has an electronic connection with Target, which it uses to submit bills and contract proposals.

Target has said hackers breached its systems during the holiday shopping season and stole about 40 million debit and credit card numbers and the personal information, including names, email addresses, phone numbers and home addresses of as many as 70 million customers.

Banks, credit unions and other entities that issued debit and credit cards have had to cancel and reissue cards, close transactions or accounts, and refund or credit card holders for transactions made with the stolen data.

Target has said its customers won't be responsible for any losses.

Join the discussion

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WILLS February 08 2014 at 1:15 PM

The Target mess was likely a piece of "back door" work where someone had "maintenance" acces to the company's computor system. Now that they know where the physical entry came from (Fazio) those investigating will be looking at employees and their backgrounds. Anyone that has any link to the software developer or hardware provider is going to be top on the "put under the glass" list. It's probably someone who already quit and has left the country. However, if they do catch them (there has to be many) the Fed's should proecute to the hilt. What we need is a new "Devils Island" maybe down in the gator infested swamp in Louisiana and good old boys for guards.

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steves1709 February 08 2014 at 9:36 AM

Windows and most operating systems were NOT made to be secure. They were made to be produced quickly and cheaply. It's pathetic, really. Guess what? If YOU can access your data via internet, so can hackers and scammers. Get used to it.

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Roll and Fab February 08 2014 at 8:26 AM

I wonder who the "hackers" are and where they are from? Nigeria? Elsewhere in Africa? Europe? Asia? South and North America? Australia? Or localized as from somewhere within the borders of good old U.S.A.?

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1 reply
f4180 Roll and Fab February 08 2014 at 9:32 AM


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josdon February 08 2014 at 9:46 AM

If, or when, this type fraud costs banks more than the amount they have decided they will tolerate, the problem will be fixed and thefraudsters will be caught.
The very profitable industry that contracts with the banks to secure the system, certainly do not mind that fraud is occurring. Without fraud there would be no industry; With a highly secure system there would be no industry.
If fire departments were for profit enterprises, there would be more fires.

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Saratoga February 08 2014 at 12:36 AM

Until our integrity surpasses our technology we are screwed.

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Sherry February 08 2014 at 9:01 AM

Two years ago I was the victim of cc fraud. However, my cc company thought it looked suspicious and notified me. After speaking with a person in their security dept. they immediately closed that account and issued me a new card, which arrived within 4 days. ( Someone had decided they needed almost $300 worth of itunes. ) The charges were immediately removed from my card until and investigation was done. After the investigation they sent a letter to let me know the outcome. I also recieved an apology. They removed any and all charges related to the itunes incident. This past summer the security system at my bank caught a fraudulent charge before it went through and I was notified of it. Because it was an international charge (Australia) that was trying to be made the security system kicked it out. They closed my debit card and issued a new one. My pay check had just been automatically deposited the day before I got the call. Thank goodness my bank has a security system that will kick out a bad charge until you are asked whether or not you made the charge. I recieved a written apology as well as a verbal one. In my opinion they did not owe me an apology since their system caught the charge before it could go through. I believe if you use your credit or debit card at any retailer, just as soon as the cc or bank issues payment for the charge, the retailer should remove any info they have on you from their system. It might cost them money to do this, but maybe we would all be a little safer.

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1 reply
steves1709 Sherry February 08 2014 at 9:32 AM

We all know that debit cards are less secure than, and we are more protected by, credit cards. It looks like you found a good company to deal with.

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emberbb February 07 2014 at 6:13 PM

With all this wonderful technology, and people never speak face to face, we have done ourselves in!

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1 reply
ggblank1603 emberbb February 07 2014 at 10:57 PM

You say as you type on your computer at home

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keedyk87 February 07 2014 at 4:22 PM

Until this electronic cyber machine is made fool proof or at least soundly safe? They should stop allowing The American Peoples money to be used as it's expendable bait as they already have for the Banking System?

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temeculapaul February 07 2014 at 4:29 PM

Imagine what can, does or has happened with computerized voting in America! Media (s)nooze operations have convinced us of almost-never-happens "voter fraud" while ignoring the very real threat of Election Fraud, where elections can be stolen wholesale with a line or programming code or two that can then erase itself. Nope, that's not newsworthy, but what's Bieber up to today?

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2 replies
dale temeculapaul February 07 2014 at 4:53 PM


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M temeculapaul February 08 2014 at 6:42 AM

Have you seen the Robin Williams movie, MAN OF THE YEAR?
His character in the movie got elected as President of the USA, quite surprisingly, due to a (later discovered) programming error in the vote counting software. A reporter eventually interviewed enough people and found the problem, but no one would believe/acknowledge there was an error...

If I remember right, the company that created the program ran a smear campaign (using kidnapping, forced drugs/alcohol, falsified personnel records, etc.) of the person who demonstrated the error to the reporter, and on the reporter rather than admit there was an error at all...

There is a surprise ending that I won't give away.

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mbrheljr February 07 2014 at 3:50 PM

I'm sorry if I sound like a quintessential hard-nose.

But, these intentional hackers are out of control and drastic measures need to be taken.

This nonsense has reached a point where I doubt that many 'net users have not been victimized.

One way or the other, we have either been hacked or been the involuntary recipients of viruses, worms, spyware or some other version of their blasted malware.

I'm a professional writer who now writes for a living, in my post-DA-retirement life.

Before this, I even successfully wrote legislation, in my alleged "free time," to do things our lawmakers failed to so.

When I retired to begin writing books full-time, I figured garbage like death threats were now in my rearview mirrors, and I could just write in peace.

(See the Books page at www.CourtroomSurvival.com for details.)

Instead, I have suffered through at least two MAJOR computer crashes.

Predictably, those incidents not only inconvenienced me but cost me a ton of $$$ to fix.

Those nearly wiped out years of work, as I continue to try and simply be a good guy improving the lives of strangers.

Having said this, what in THE hell are our lawmakers doing to fix this?

Former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson said it best: "...the only purpose of government is to protect the People..."

Now, having said that, when are American lawmakers going to end this threat, once and for all?

I respectfully suggest that legislation so DRACONIAN is needed.

What is the answer?

Perhaps, federal death penalty laws?

You tell me. I invite comment...

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5 replies
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