Tag Archives: Target

Cybersecurity

July 9, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It was a Black Friday story that had nothing to do with holiday bargains. In 2013, cyber criminals hacked into Target Corp.’s customer database and stole as many as 40 million credit card numbers. Customer names, credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, and CVV codes were reportedly compromised, presumably so hackers could use the data to make new cards. 

Customers everywhere were affected.

Leaders at Minnesota-based Target were horrified and embarrassed as the hack made international news. Amid criticism that the company should have done more to protect consumers—and an investigation launched by authorities in Nebraska and nearly every other state—Target later implemented a $5 million cybersecurity coalition charged with preventing such breeches from happening again. The total cost of the cyberattack on Target reached as high as $300 million, according to news reports. That included class action lawsuit settlements and money paid to credit card companies, banks, and credit unions.

While the damage was done, the retailer wasn’t alone. The financial loss from cybercrimes surpassed $1.3 billion in 2016, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. There were nearly 300,000 complaints to the agency that year from businesses of all sizes.

Such cybercrimes have put companies everywhere on high alert—and looking at what cybersecurity measures they have in place. 

That includes businesses in Omaha. 

“We have to ask, ‘How do we endure security of information, customer privacy, systems compliance, the website, power stations, and landfill?’” says Joshua Mauk, the Omaha Public Power District director of security, whose job includes cybersecurity. “Our job is to implement a security program that helps us achieve all of those objectives across all of the district.” 

“Cybersecurity” sounds like a buzzword, but it’s a real concern among companies and law enforcement officials. The FBI says cybercrimes are becoming “more commonplace, more dangerous, and more sophisticated.” The agency reports that hackers target companies like Target for data and trade secrets, universities for research, and consumers for money and identity theft.

Along with being a monetary hassle, work is often disrupted or stopped altogether at companies, hospitals, even 911 centers. The hackers range from disgruntled or thrill-seeking computer geeks to international terrorists and spies looking for money to fund their operations. Even a small attack is a potential threat to national security. 

Some attacks target hardware and software, such as malware. Others are online fraud and phishing schemes, while yet others are considered “sexploitation,” according to Interpol. 

FBI officials say they have begun partnering with companies and organizations around the country as part of its cyber division’s efforts to boost cybersecurity nationwide. 

OPPD is one of them. The utility is working with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to try and prevent cybercrimes at the utility. If hackers took down OPPD’s system, then every single customer—or 820,000 people—could, theoretically, lose power indefinitely.

Mauk declined to specify OPPD’s cyber security program, citing security reasons. Other companies, including First National Bank of Omaha, declined to comment due to safety concerns. 

“There have been a number of utilities around the world that have been targeted,” Mauk says. “The biggest risk to us is someone coming in and taking down the entire system. The FBI and Homeland Security let us know about new risks, new threats, and we use that information to ensure we are adjusting those concerns to our cybersecurity program.” 

Omaha police acknowledge that while cybercrimes tend to fall under federal jurisdiction, they would investigate a cybercrime that occurred in the city. But most of the time, cyber attacks are conducted by people located in other states or countries—not local hackers. 

Police say some companies may experience a cyberattack, but neglect to report it to law enforcement due to the idea that it might harm their image or reputation. 

The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office has a cybercrimes division aimed at protecting Nebraskans from technology crimes through education and, in some cases, legal action. 

Take the Target data breach. Last year, Attorney General Doug Peterson announced that Nebraska had joined 46 other states and the District of Columbia to reach an $18.5 million settlement against the retail giant stemming from the incident. The state received $199,382 as its share. 

Peterson had said it was the largest multi-state data breach settlement to date. 

In October, Peterson’s office released a statement promoting cybersecurity in the workplace: 

“As recent major cybersecurity incidents have shown, cybercriminals often rely on human error—like failing to install software patches, clicking on malicious links, and creating easy-to-guess passwords—to gain access to systems and information. Every member of an organization—from senior leadership to the newest employees—is responsible for keeping information and systems secure. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. That’s why strong cybersecurity practices are so important.”

Authorities and security experts worry, though, that cybercrimes will continue and even increase as advances in technology are made. Officials and corporate security teams understand they have to stay two steps ahead, always. 

“This is definitely something we are investing in, from a people, processes, and technology standpoint,” Mauk says. “We will have additional layers of security to always protect the corporate side, critical infrastructure, and plants.” 


Visit the attorney general’s webpage, ago.nebraska.gov, for more information on cybersecurity.

This article was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B. 

Joshua Mauk

Midwestern Umami

October 9, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If you have heard anything about Suji’s Korean Grill, it is probably that the restaurant is “Chipotle for Korean food,” an analogy trumpeted from many a Yelp review and word-of-mouth recommendation.

It’s an accurate assessment of the initial Suji’s that opened near 72nd and Pacific streets in July 2016, but the comparison becomes less apt as the eatery evolves in response to diner feedback.

“I found customers want to see more authentic Korean food and bolder flavors, so we’ve upgraded our menu to meet that demand,” says Suji Park, proprietor of Suji’s Korean Grill. Park is also the founder and “chief inspiration officer” of Suji’s Korean Cuisine, her line of prepackaged Korean meats, sauces, and bibimbap bowls sold at retailers like Whole Foods and Target.

Now, the woman who brought the brunch boom to Korea is working to mainstream Korean cuisine for Americans—and she’s excited to see strong demand for authenticity.

Park originally came to Nebraska to partner with University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Innovation Campus, which lent cutting-edge preservation techniques to the development of her prepackaged foods. The international restaurateur of 12 years then chose Omaha to launch her first stateside eatery.

bibimbap

bibimbap

Park’s something of a culinary babel fish, translating Asian dishes for Americans, and American cuisine like brunch and New York-style deli fare for an Asian market in her Seoul and Tokyo restaurants. Now, the woman who brought the brunch boom to Korea is working to mainstream Korean cuisine for Americans—and she’s excited to see strong demand for authenticity.

Park says meeting that demand means moving Suji’s from a strict fast-casual concept to a hybrid style, where customers still order at the counter but food is freshly prepared in 10 minutes or less. The extra prep time allows for more menu variation, including the addition of dup-bap dishes—hearty meat and vegetables served “over rice”—like beef and pork bulgogi, and dak jjim, a savory, almost stewy, spicy braised chicken thigh with potato, carrot, and onion. 

Park also added japchae, a well-executed traditional Korean noodle dish of thin, stir-fried sweet potato noodles tossed with carrots, onions, scallions, and a choice of marinated beef, chicken, or plump shiitakes. Available as a side or entree, it’s unique and versatile enough to appeal to vegetarians and omnivores alike.

a selection of banchan

a selection of banchan

Another standout dish is the kimchi bacon rice: sautéed rice mixed with the sour bite of kimchi and the salty splendor of uncured, antibiotic-free bacon with an important texture assist from crisp cucumber, spring greens, and scallions. A perfectly cooked soft-fried egg and sesame seeds top the dish, which in total presents like the food equivalent of an expertly struck multipart harmony, the many flavors and texture elements uniting for one tasty whole.

Suji’s offers several flavorful sauces and kimchi varieties that further elevate these dishes, so diners would be wise to add them according to taste—in my case liberally, as I found such additions often lent an important layer of flavor.

Many elements will not change, including original menu items like bibimbap bowls and Korean street tacos, Suji’s inviting communal seating, and Park’s overarching commitment to all-natural ingredients. In her restaurants and prepackaged foods, Park insists on no MSG, binders, artificial colorings, flavors, or preservatives, and a gluten-conscious approach.

“We’ll never change our all-natural mission or authenticity,” says Park. “We want people to fully experience Korean meals, so we’re also introducing banchan, small dishes, like tapas, with a main dish.”

Korean street tacos

Korean street tacos

Park’s mother, Younja Kim, is visiting from Korea for several months to help develop a variety of rotating homemade banchan and kimchi. Suji’s will also host educational sessions, inviting Omahans to learn how to make varieties of kimchi.

“I’m excited to show people what Korean food is about,” she says. “I’m in the food industry because I love people, and food brings people together.”

Visit sujiskoreangrill.com for more information.

sujis1

Cirque de Amateur

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The term “amateur” gets a bad rap. While suggesting a lack of skill, the word actually comes from the Latin “amator” or “lover.” An amateur is someone who does what they do for the love of it, and in Omaha, some love the circus arts. People are flocking to the traditions of the big top for myriad reasons: hobby, self-expression, exercise, paid performance, or social activity. 

Ciara Searight is a professionally certified aerial trainer who studied with Aircats at the Boulder Circus Center, Aloft Loft in Chicago, and Circus School of Arizona. Searight is an aerialist, acrobat, and dancer. Gracefully, she performs above the ground, defying fear with seeming effortlessness.

“I’m a certified teacher, but I’m an amateur performer,” says Searight, who started FreakWorks Entertainment in Omaha to teach and reach out to those with a similar love for the art of the aerial performance. The group meets frequently on Sundays in Elmwood Park, and she welcomes the public to join them. Parks have always allured young acrobats.

“I did gymnastics when I was younger, but I was inspired by playing around on tall swings, flipping around and hanging upside down. I thought, ‘there’s got to be something like this out there,’” says Searight of what led her to aerial arts such as silks, corde lisse, sling, lyra, trapeze, flying trapeze, straps, chains, pole, Spanish web, and more.

Anyone can do something in the circus arts, from the highest tightrope to yoyo tricks, unicycling, or sleight of hand—the possibilities are limitless. All it takes is one specific talent and to know approachable circus folks like her, according to Searight.

Circus-Arts2“Even pets can be taught tricks to perform. FreakWorks has had fire breathers, sword fighters, aerial silk performers, a lyrist, unicycle, whip, rola bola, breakdance, acrofusion, juggling, fire fingers, fire staff, poi, ballet, hoopers, flag, hand tut, pole. I wish we had BMX and skateboarders. Contortion and hand balancing would be great. Also teeter totter and trampoline artists would be amazing.”

The athleticism in aerials is obvious, but performing in most circus arts is a guaranteed workout.

“It’s great exercise. It works every part of your body,” Searight says, adding that core strength is what makes it look so easy. “I always enjoy watching people for the first time and how proud they are after doing their first real pose.”

Sara Gray describes herself as one of the obsessed ones. As Purple Pyro (her pseudonym), Gray is pushing her limits.

“I practice several movement arts: I breakdance with a local dance crew, Organix, I perform fire spinning and fire eating with Animatikz Entertainment, and aerial acrobatics with Flight Motion Studios.”

As a kid, Gray used to attempt handstands and splits with her friends with little success.

“I never got them. I decided that it would just never happen for me, and that’s what I told myself my entire life. Now I can hold a handstand with a fire staff on my neck and do the splits.”

Gray believes everyone should revisit the limits they have set for themselves as she did when she came across FreakWorks.

“I got into the circus arts last summer when my boyfriend and dance partner introduced me to a small circus group in Lincoln. After climbing into the aerial hoop for the first time, I was hooked,” says Gray. “I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life and I can never get enough. When you start off barely being able to get into the hoop, and then you work hard enough to build up the upper body strength that most people lack, there is a sense of empowerment that becomes addicting. It really helps you realize that you can break any limit that you may have set for yourself at an early age.”

Andrea Grove fits the enamored hobbyist profile. She discovered circus artistry through a roundabout route. While she had excelled at gymnastic floor exercises as a child, she eventually gave up the sport. She tried replacing gymnastics with cheerleading, but she hated it.

“Unfortunately, I felt too old to be a gymnast, and then I eventually got caught up in being a confused teenager,” says Grove. Around 20, she began attending music festivals, where circus performers flourish.

“I saw my first hula hoop dance at a festival in Minnesota and was blown away. It looked like magic. So I went home, bought a hoop from Target, and started teaching myself through YouTube tutorials.” 

Elmwood meet-ups with FreakWorks, as well as contortion training at Laurel Feller’s FlightMotion Studios, helped Grove branch out, adding to her list of skills and her family. Because circus people are tight like that.

“It captured my heart,” Grove says. “That magical feeling of seeing my first hoop dance hasn’t gone away; it’s only grown. That’s why I do it. It is an escape from the mundane, and I hope to someday spark that magic in someone else’s life. They can join my family.”

Visit facebook.com/Freakworks for more information. Omaha Magazine

Eric Nyffeler

August 12, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

There is a formula for creating a generic artist name: Ditch your street name. Forget your middle name. Find a word that makes you seem “bigger and cooler” than you really are. Use that word.

Eric Nyffeler didn’t use that approach. His method was more oblique: make fun of yourself. But do so in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and slightly confusing.

“I overestimated how many people actually know that ‘Doe Eyed’ means naive and unsophisticated,” Nyffeler says about his former artist moniker of six years from his Benson studio. “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who have told me, ‘Oh! I expected you to be some cute, hipster girl from that name.’”

Doe Eyed no more. The 32-year-old illustrator and designer has changed the name of his studio as he ventures beyond producing concert advertisements for an eclectic Grammy-nominated clientele that includes Dave Matthews Band, Phish, and Gotye. Nyffeler is taking his brand of “gritty geometry” and “mid-century whimsy” to more diverse audiences.

“I felt like I needed something of a change,” he says. “I felt like I had outgrown working under that name, and changing it felt like a fresh start for me.”

EricNyffler1Indeed, under Eric Nyffeler Design & Illustration—a more sophisticated moniker that would likely please the artist’s parents—the Lincoln transplant has been attracting clients such as Target, Nike, and Airbnb, and publishing work in a variety of design and print publications. Though Nyffeler isn’t one to forget his roots:

“I cannot deny that cutting my teeth in the gig poster world was unbelievably huge and influential,” he says. “A lot of those people, who my work might not look anything like, were people who showed me what was doable in graphic design, and they pushed my work so it wasn’t just advertising.”

Nyffeler’s visual style can be characterized as an Arcadian dropping acid in a vibrating Eames chair. His design sensibilities tend to veer toward concise and direct as opposed to minimalistic, and his artistic sensibilities have one foot in the deep end of psychedelia. The rest of it is buried in pizza, or the artist’s muse.

“I joke that it’s Charley Harper plus Charles Bukowski,” he says, hearkening back to the minimal-realist artist and the dirty-realist author. “Because it’s the geometry, simplicity, and mid-century stuff of Harper but with a trashier, punkier, weirder vibe.”

Of course, he says, somewhere in that clean mess is a kid from Columbus, Nebraska, who used to “draw fake album art for bands that didn’t exist.” And then when they did exist, mainly his own bands, Nyffeler says he began creating “crappy Xerox flyers” that kept getting less and less crappy.

“My passion was doing design stuff for bands, and that’s what made me fall in love with design,” he admits. “Even though I love design and illustration as a whole now, my entry point was doing stuff for bands.”

Now a successful independent commercial artist, with a name that makes Nyffeler sound like himself again, the artist sits back, takes a deep breath, and wonders how he even got here.

“It was pretty much by accident,” Nyffeler says. “But when I look deeper, it makes total sense.”

Visit ericnyffeler.com for more information.

Cosentry

January 5, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

From Target to Lowe’s to mom-and-pops, no company, large or small, is safe from a data breach.

When a company’s website is hacked or its customers’ financial information is stolen, it doesn’t just leave companies with angry comments in online posts—it opens up companies to lawsuits, layoffs, loss of revenue, and often irreconcilable damage to the brand.

When Target had personal information on 70 million of its customers stolen in 2013, the popular retailer experienced lawsuits from banks and lost over $200 million, which led to the resignation of CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

But there’s a solution for smaller businesses in the form of Cosentry, an IT solutions company headquartered in Omaha. Cosentry takes on the complex task of addressing its customers’ every IT problem, from data recovery after a lightning strike to preventing security hacks. Rather than just selling a software solution, the company independently manages its customers’ IT systems, freeing them up to focus on other areas of their business.

So far, its hands-on approach has paid off. Founded in 2001, Cosentry has more than doubled in size over the past three years alone and now operates nine data centers across the Midwest.

The critical role of IT infrastructure and managing those resources, Coesntry CEO Brad Hokamp says, has fueled the company’s explosive growth.

Cosentry1

“Let’s say you were running a website back in the late ’90s,” Hokamp says. “Your website was important to your business. It was kind of your brand image, but there wasn’t a lot of business being done there. The applications that we’re hosting or putting in our data center, on top of our cloud platforms, are today mission-critical to our customers’ business success.”

The way Cosentry’s services work is that the company can take on as much or as little of a customer’s IT management as the client desires. Cosentry can simply take over the day-to-day management of a business’ IT system, or it can replicate another version of a company’s data center in a different location so operations will continue seamlessly in case of a data center disaster.

Being in charge of other companies’ digital livelihoods means that Cosentry constantly has to stay up-to-date on possible security threats and performance issues with a customer’s IT system, according to Vice President of Product Management Craig Hurley.

By keeping up with the increasingly frequent stream of operating system updates, for example, Cosentry delivers value in an area that could otherwise be vexing and time-consuming in a smaller company’s IT department, which is often defined as “Joe, the guy who handles IT, accounting, payroll, and ordering office supplies.” Cosentry assumes end-to-end patch-management so the process is transparent to their client.

“We’re able to mitigate customer risk,” Hurley says, “and do it in a way that most organizations can’t do. They’re just not able to keep up with all of the potential breaches out there or employ and train individuals that are capable of really staying on top of this.”

“There’s a lot of companies that are focused on security-only issues,” Hokamp says, “but we aren’t seeing a lot of them that can provide the set of comprehensive capabilities that we offer.”

Visit cosentry.com to learn more.

Cosentry3