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Phishing email led to Target cyberattack

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis — A “phishing” attack using an email containing malware reportedly enabled hackers to gain access to Target’s computer network in 2013. According to the security blogger Brian Krebs, an employee at the HVAC vendor Fazio Mechanical in Sharpsburg, Penn. which includes Target among its clients, opened a fraudulent email that allowed hackers to enter Fazio’s network and take over a computer.

The hackers then used that computer to gain access to the Target network using credentials for a dedicated link between Target and Fazio. The hackers may have used a malware program called Citadel to initially enter Fazio’s network, and are believed to have used an Eastern European malware program known as Kaptoxa to penetrate Target’s internal systems and databases.

Krebs also reports that the initial malware attack on Fazio may have happened as early as September 2013, two months prior to when the Target attack is currently believed to have started, and that Fazio’s computer security may have relied upon a free version of the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware program.

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L.L. Bean takes top 2013 online customer experience ranking

BY Dan Berthiaume

Chicago — L.L. Bean has been ranked number one in online customer experience. The E-tailing Group 2013 Customer Experience Index, based on a mystery shopping study conducted during the fourth quarter of 2013, awarded L.L. Bean a top score of 88.75, followed by HSN at 87.25.

Other retailers scoring higher than 80 included Office Depot, Overstock, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Sears, Abt, Target, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Average score in 2013 was 71.06, up from 69.3 in 2012. Repeat winners from 2012 included Amazon and Office Depot.

In addition, a key page analysis of the five fundamental site pages revealed that HSN, L.L Bean and Staples came close to perfection as their key page total well surpassed the 18.8 average where all scored 21.75 or above. Merchandising and customer service saw year-over-year scoring gains of 3.7% and 2.6% respectively while key pages improved by less than a 1% margin with a slight tweaking of potential points to reflect industry changes.

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Cabela’s net income, revenue grow during Q4, fiscal year 2013

BY Dan Berthiaume

Sidney, Neb. — Net income and revenue increased at Cabela’s during the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2013. For the quarter, net income rose 18% year-over-year to $80.1 million from $68 million, and for the year grew 29% to $224.4 million from $173.5 million.

Meanwhile, revenue increased 3% during the quarter, to $1.08 billion from $1.05 billion, and 14% during the year, to $3.2 billion from $2.8 billion. Same-store sales dropped 3.5% during the quarter Tommy Millner, CEO of Cabela’s, said soft same-store, ammunition and holiday sales led to fourth quarter growth that did not meet expectations.

"Cabela’s revenue and earnings per share for the full year grew at a double-digit rate for the fifth consecutive year," said Millner, Cabela’s CEO. "However, results for the fourth quarter did not meet our expectations, which were set earlier under more robust conditions. Specifically, the two biggest short-term factors affecting results in the quarter were a much sharper than expected decline in ammunition sales as compared to last year’s surge and a softer than expected holiday season as evidenced elsewhere. On the other hand, comparable store sales excluding firearms and ammunition were down 3.5% with positive comparable store sales in hunting apparel, men’s casual apparel, footwear and non-shooting related hunting equipment in the quarter."

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