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Industry News - February 21st 2014



The Target of a Phishing Scandal

Last week the Target breach was linked back to network credentials that were issued to Fazio Mechanical Services HVAC firm, however, it is now known that those credentials were stolen in an e-mail malware attack. Fazio Mechanical Services fell victim to the malware phishing attack at least two months prior to when the attackers stole the information of 40 million credit and debit cards from Target's POS systems, said Krebs.
While the data theft began on November 27, Target didn't confirm the breach until December 15, and it wasn't until December 18 that the retailer fully scrubbed the attackers' POS malware from its payment systems.
The phishing e-mail that compromised Fazio's systems included a Citadel Trojan, which is botnet-controlled financial malware based on the Zeus source code, according to reports on Krebs. Citadel malware includes the ability to relay video recordings of all Internet sessions to its controllers and log keystrokes automatically, as well as FTP and POP3 e-mail credentials.
A study of banking Trojans released this week by Dell SecureWorks described Citadel's use by criminals as "ubiquitous" and said that the attackers behind the Citadel Trojan have "made concerted efforts to spread Citadel using spam campaigns and drive-by download attacks using different exploit kits." Dell SecureWorks said that it was tracking more than 900 Citadel command-and-control servers in 2013. According to the Dell SecureWorks report, the malware also packs a variety of security software evasion techniques, including "aggressive DNS filtering" to prevent infected hosts from connecting to security sites or receiving antivirus software and signature updates.

Rakuten Acquires Viber Mobile Messenger for $900M

Internet services company Rakuten will acquire Viber, a messaging and VoIP company, for a total consideration of $900 million, representing a bold step for the retailer into the digital content space. With a global user base of 300 million, the acquisition solidifies Rakuten's footprint in the digital content space along with its acquisitions of Kobo, Wuaki.tv and Viki.
With more than 40 different services, Rakuten has built a robust and dynamic Internet services ecosystem on a unified ID membership database that features Rakuten Super Points rewards program. Viber's messaging and VoIP services complement Rakuten's digital content offerings and its "Shopping is Entertainment" philosophy, laying the foundation for a daily online platform.
"I am tremendously excited to welcome Viber to the Rakuten family," said Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani. "Viber delivers the most consistently high quality and convenient messaging and VoIP experience available. Additionally, Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform. Simply put, Viber understands how people actually want to engage and have built the only service that truly delivers on all fronts. This makes Viber the ideal total consumer engagement platform for Rakuten as we seek to bring our deep understanding of the consumer to vast new audiences through our dynamic ecosystem of Internet Services."
Viber's multi-platform application adoption has been impressive, demonstrating significant growth reaching 300 million registered users, growing more than 120% in 2013.

Survey Reveals 32.8 Million Americans Have Booked Travel on a Mobile Device

Hotwire.com, a discount travel site, has unveiled intriguing results about mobile bookings from its third annual American Travel Behavior Survey, which was conducted online in October 2013 on behalf of Hotwire by Harris Interactive among over 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The survey found that 18 percent of American adults who have ever booked travel, have done so using a mobile device. Additionally, the results revealed younger adults are significantly more likely to book travel on mobile devices—37 percent of adults ages 18-34 and 25 percent of adults ages 35-44.
A further breakdown of how the adults who have ever booked travel using a mobile device have done so:
12% have booked travel on a smartphone
10% have booked travel on a smartphone via a web browser
7% have booked travel on a smartphone via an app
10% have booked travel on a tablet device
8% have booked travel on a tablet device via a web browser
3% have booked travel on a tablet device via an app
Hotwire experienced a 60 percent year-over-year increase in mobile bookings for the first nine months of 2013. Currently, nearly 20 percent of Hotwire transactions occur on a mobile device.
Interestingly, the survey also found that 48 percent of adults report being more comfortable with eleventh hour booking (i.e., within 7 days of check-in) than they were five years ago. Moreover, 80 percent of Hotwire's bookings on a mobile phone and 70 percent on a tablet are made at the last minute (the day before or day of arrival).

Development Company Increases Profitability with Help of Automated Property Data Collection and Analysis

With 56 properties and multiple ownership entities, Strand Development Company relies on its corporate business intelligence system to automate the complex data gathering and analysis process that drives property performance reporting.
Strand works for many ownership groups. Some are small private companies, others are publicly traded. Most have different reporting requirements, so Strand needs to provide property data in different ways.
In 2004, Strand implemented the IBM Cognos-based Execuvue® business intelligence (BI) system from Aptech Computer Systems. Strand turned to Aptech to help them collect, analyze, and report property performance to ownership groups. An important feature of Execuvue is its ability to tie to any database or data source. Gathering data with Execuvue is faster and much easier than its earlier processes. Strand combines that information with metrics from STR, accounting, and payroll systems for analysis and flexible daily reports. Strand ties STR data to its financial data and Aptech is working with Marriott and other companies to bring in guest comment data.  
Strand’s success and growth are based on delivering solid property results to its ownership groups. Accurate, comprehensive daily reporting is how Strand measures property performance.
Strand also provides automated forecast reporting. Strand used to manually create forecasts for properties; now the GMs have an input sheet, which goes into the Execuvue BI seamlessly for 6-month pro forma. Accurate forecasting helps Strand properties create a better financial future.

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