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Industry News - December 20th 2014



Target Data Breach Compromises 40M Cards

Target has revealed that unauthorized access to payment card data may have impacted guests making credit and debit card purchases in its U.S. stores. Working closely with law enforcement and financial institutions, the retailer has identified and resolved the issue.
Target has issued a public statement on its corporate website alerting customers that approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been impacted between November 27, 2014 and December 15, 2014. Target alerted authorities and financial institutions immediately after becoming aware of the unauthorized access and is placing all appropriate resources on these efforts. Among other actions, Target is partnering with a leading third-party forensics firm to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident.
"It appears from the outside (and I have no unique understanding of the details), that the hackers gained access to the decryption code somewhere along the network," says Greg Buzek, founder and president of IHL Consulting Group. "As transactions are encrypted at the device before sending, those would either need to be hijacked in each device (unlikely on this wide spread of a nature) or someone gained access to the specific Target injection key either in their network or at the processor and siphoned off the data along the way, a copy was made and send elsewhere."
According to Buzek, Target's POS devices are customized VeriFone devices that at one point included NFC payment or allowed for the possible additon of NFC payment.

The breach involves the theft of information stored on the magnetic strip on the backs of cards used at nearly all of Target's 1,800 stores around the country. According to reports, the breach does not appear to involved online purchases. The type of data stolen would allow thieves to create counterfeit credit cards and, if pin numbers were intercepted, also allow thieves to withdraw cash from ATM machines.
It is important that the breach be addressed quickly, to help get information out to those affected and to regulators, to bring in the right experts to address the breach and to help preserve the public's trust in the company.

Hilton Hotels Enhance Cellular Signal Coverage and Loyalty

Two Orlando Hilton properties are seeing guest satisfaction and loyalty soar after dramatically enhancing cellular signal coverage. Recently the Hilton Garden Inn Lake Buena Vista/Orlando and the Homewood Suites by Hilton Lake Buena Vista/Orlando installed RoamBoost, the exclusive Distributed Antenna System (DAS) solution offered by RoamingAround. RoamBoost enhances the local geography’s coverage inside the building for all carriers, ensuring that all mobile calls, data transactions and communications are conducted quickly and securely. The properties are located at 11400 Marbella Palm Court, and both are owned and managed by Kalson’s Hospitality Inc.
Because there are so many lodging options available today, hotels that don't provide adequate cell service will lose business to their competitors that do. Today's travelers expect to be able to make and receive phone calls instantly. If your customers are inconvenienced to the point where they have to walk outdoors to make a call, chances are likely that they won't come back.
A recent OSP World article titled "WEB EXTRA: Bad Cell Phone Reception Drives Away 54% of Adults From Returning to Hotels" reports that travelers aged 35 to 54 would look elsewhere or never return to, or select, a hotel — for either business or leisure purposes — if they knew it had poor cell phone reception.

Strand Development Company Implements Activity Tracking Solution Across 36 Properties

Strand Development Company, LLC has completed installation of the hotel SalesPro sales automation solution in 36 hotels. Strand specializes in the two- to four-star hotel segments and is approved to operate properties under brands that include Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Wyndham, Choice, and InterContinental Hotel Group.
hotel SalesPro is an affordable ASP-based, multi-property corporate sales system that enables hotel sales people to be more productive and generate higher revenue. The system provides centralized account and performance tracking, CRM, account and contract management, traces, and reporting.
Strand Development Company, LLC. first implemented hotel SalesPro in 7 properties to evaluate it. The system worked so well that they rolled it out in 36 hotels this fall. The  system provides property and consolidated reports that show sales goals, call activity, who was contacted, corporate contacts, account value and revenue performance, and other metrics.

Gary King Appointed CIO at T-Mobile

T-Mobile has appointed Gary King as its new Chief Information Officer effective December 31. The 30-year veteran in technology services for consumer brands fills the post left vacant when Rob Strickland departed over two years ago.

Known as an innovator and transformer the new CIO will be charged with improving T-Mobile's retail presence while keeping the gains the company enjoyed in the second half of 2014 growing. The wireless carrier increased subscribers by almost two million in 2014.

“T-Mobile is heading into 2014 with incredible momentum,” CEO John Legere says. “Gary brings consumer, retail and e-business experience to the team, which will help us continue to advocate for consumers while transforming our business.”

The number four wireless provider in the U.S. has its sights set on the big players, positioning itself as the "Un-carrier." The new strategy does away with contracts and device subsidies, provides cheap international roaming, free data offers on tablets, and early device upgrades.

The top two players in the wireless space Verizon and AT&T have opened large-scale destination stores designed to immerse the customer in the technological offerings without an over-powering sales pitch. It is very likely that the industry veteran will be called upon to deliver a similar experience for T-Mobile as the top providers jockey for larger and larger subscriber bases.

King is coming over from Chico's PAS where he held the title of executive vice president and CIO for nine years. In addition to his time at Chico's, King worked for Avon and Barnes & Noble over his three-decade long career.

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