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TODAY   |  January 17, 2014

Virus that hacked Target partly written in Russian

NBC national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen reveals more information on how hackers executed a massive security breach of the retail company, compromising millions of credit and debit accounts. A report indicates that the breach was a new level of hacking that could put more consumers in danger.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> shocking new information on the massive security breach at target. today jeff rossen has the new document shedding light on how the hackers did it.

>> this is important enough for now. this is the report right here, 17 pages long put together by a cyber intelligence firm working behind the scenes with the u.s. secret service . today, they're trying to figure out what happened here. this morning, we know a lot more. how the hackers got in, how they got your personal information out, and why other retailers are at risk now.

>> reporter: the virus that exposed more than 100 million target shoppers was partly written in russian. code word kaptoxa. according to this new report, even cyber investigators seem surprised. calling the hackers technically sophisticated. their tactics, remarkable, new to ecrime.

>> i've been doing this for 20 years and never seen anything like this. this is a game-changer.

>> reporter: here's how the thieves do it. when you swipe your credit or debit card , the information travels from there to the cash register where it's decrypted. in that fraction of a second, the virus grabs your personal data before you're even approved, you've been robbed. your name, credit card number , pin number , e-mail and phone number , all compromised. target's antivirus software didn't catch it.

>> target has sophisticated security. and yet, they still couldn't detect this type of virus. it won't be detected.

>> target's ceo told cnbc this week retailers need to up their game.

>> i think what we've seen is vulnerability in our system. and i think if we are proactive and really engage and move forward, we can accomplish anything.

>> reporter: but the threat has just begun. the report says this virus is increasingly available on underground marketplaces. and experts fear hackers may have already launched it at other retailers who don't even know they're infected yet.

>> target's the tip of the iceberg . personal information 's being stolen as we speak and people aren't doing anything yet to stop it.

>> we reached out to target late last night about this report, the company had no comment. here's the bigger problem, right now, there is no fix for this. so experts are really pulling this virus apart right now, trying figure out how it works and build a program to stop it before another major retailer is hit. they have made a lot of progress. a lot of special pages of coding here that we wouldn't understand but they would, what to look out for.

>> cash?

>> yeah, use cash. it's the safest way to go for now.