Morning Security Brief: Retail Payment Data Theft, Glitter Leads to Terrorism Charge, University Bomb Threats, and More

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge



►Retailing giant Target is investigating the loss of customer payment card data. It's estimated that track data on about 1 million cards was stolen before the retailer became aware of the ongoing losses, which took place between Thanksgiving and December 15. According to the Chicago Tribune, "Investigators believe the data was obtained via software installed on machines that customers use to swipe magnetic strips on their cards when paying for merchandise at Target stores, according to the person who was not authorized to discuss the matter and declined to provide further details." Shoppers at the Target Web site were not affected.

Environmental protesters, Stefan Warner and Moriah Stephenson, members of Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, who unfurled a glittery banner during an antifraking protest at the headquarters of Devon Energy in Oklahoma City, have been charged with staging a "terrorist hoax" by police who claim the glitter was evidence of a fake biochemical assault. Mother Jones reports, "As other activists blocked the building's revolving door, [the two protesters] hung two banners... from the second floor of the Devon Tower's atrium. Police who responded to the scene arrested Warner and Stephenson along with two other protesters. But while their fellow activists were arrested for trespassing, Warner and Stephenson were hit with additional charges of staging a fake bioterrorism attack." In Oklahoma, a conviction for a terrorist hoax can result in a 10-year sentence.

►Reuters says that a Harvard University student, Eldo Kim, has been charged with falsely claiming there were bombs placed in multiple campus buildings. The e-mails were sent to the school's police department, as well as other school administrators, and the Ivy League institution's student newspaper, said that there were shrapnel bombs in several academic buildings and at least one dorm. The hoax led to campus evacuations. Kim, according to police, sent the e-mails to disrupt final exams.

►In other news, National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" reported on the low wages paid to security guards contracted to large companies in Silicon Valley. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is hoping to become the official regulatory body for data security. And DesignNews discusses malware that can be transmitted wirelessly through sound.


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