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Daily briefing.

News on Christmas Eve remains focused on two stories: the Target payment card breach, and Reuters' allegation of RSA collusion with NSA to weaken encryption.

Both Target and the banks that issue the affected payment cards are working to contain the damage to consumers' accounts (and their brands' reputations). While PR experts generally give Target's communication with customers high marks, class-action litigation has already begun, and five US states' attorneys general have requested information on the incident. (Indeed, Target has invited all states' attorneys general to a conference call with its corporate counsel.) The US Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation of the theft. Financial analysts predict the cost of issuing replacement cards will be high.

Two interesting tactical notes emerge from the breach. First, "decoupled debit cards" like Target's own Red Card have turned out to be less interesting to the criminals, and therefore now seem to have a security upside. Such decoupled cards (which draw funds from a separate issuer) had hitherto generally been regarded primarily as low–end bankcard alternatives.

Second, stolen cards are being marketed with the location of the stores where they were used, enabling local (and thus less obviously fraudulent) criminal exploitation.

RSA categorically denies having been paid by NSA to use a knowingly weakened encryption algorithm, but many critics claim that the algorithm in question had been suspect for years. (How much of such criticism depends on hindsight remains unclear.)

Reports claim the Japanese government wants US help developing offensive cyber capabilities.


Today's issue includes events affecting Belgium, China, Finland, Japan, Republic of Korea, NATO, Russia, United Kingdom, United States..

The CyberWire will not publish tomorrow: its editors are taking Christmas off. We'll resume regular publication on December 26. Enjoy the holidays.

For a complete running list of events, please visit the Event Tracker on the CyberWire website.

Upcoming Events

FloCon2014 (Charleston, South Carolina, USA, January 13 - 16, 2014) FloCon 2014, a network security conference, takes place at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, on January 13–16, 2014. This open conference provides a forum for operational network...

NASA Langley Cyber Expo (Hampton, Virginia, USA, January 14, 2014) The 2013 NASA Langley Cyber Expo is an annual event dedicated to Cyber Security and Information Technology at this secure facility. As the Cyber Expo hosts, the Office of the Chief Information Officer...

cybergamut Tech Tuesday: Malware Reverse Engineering - An Introduction to the Tools, Workflows, and Tricks of the Trade to Attack Sophisticated Malware (Columbia, Maryland, USA, January 21, 2014) Reverse engineering malware can be an integral part of every security team's calculus. This session provides a technical review of the tools, workflows, and advanced analytic insight a senior reverse engineer...

CANCELLED DUE TO WINTER STORMS: cybergamut Tech Tuesday: Malware Reverse Engineering — An Introduction to the Tools, Workflows, and Tricks of the Trade to Attack Sophisticated Malware (Columbia, Maryland, USA, January 21, 2014) This talk has been cancelled. Please consult cybergamut for scheduling updates.

Cybertech — Cyber Security Conference and Exhibition (Tel Aviv, Israel, January 27 - 29, 2014) Cybertech Israel, the first event of its kind, will present world-leading companies in the field of cyber defense alongside young companies that offer unique solutions to advance the discipline of cyber...

U.S. Census Data Protection & Privacy Day (Suitland, Maryland, USA, January 28, 2014) The Census Bureau's Privacy Compliance Branch of the Policy Coordination Office is hosting a Data Protection and Privacy Day on January 28. This event is intended to provide a forum for Census employees...

2014 Cybersecurity Innovation Forum (Baltimore, Maryland, USA, January 28 - 30, 2014) The 2014 Cybersecurity Innovation Forum (CIF) is a three-day event, sponsored by the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) with DHS, NIST, and NSA as primary participating organizations.

Cyber Training Forum at NGA (Springfield, Virginia, USA, February 4, 2014) The 2014 Cyber Security Training Forum (CSTF) will take place at the NGA East Campus in Springfield, VA. This event is designed to provide education and training to the NGA Workforce, the Intelligence...

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