DIY enthusiasts across the US are faced with yet another alert over the use of their credit and debit cards, as the chain store Home Depot investigates a potential hack on their computer systems.
Online security expert Brian Krebs posted the warning on his blog which warns that the retailer may have been exposed as far back as April this year. The chain has admitted that it is investigating what it calls “unusual activity” in relation to customers data.
40 Million Cards
In a shocking announcement Home Depot revealed that details of over 40 million debit and credit cards belonging to its customers may have been taken during the 3 week period in which it was targeted.
Whilst this may seem unbelievable to most onlookers unlike much of the rest of the world the United States still uses the old technology of swiping the customers card when payment is taken. This reads the data from the magnetic strip on the card, uses it and stores it. The modern ‘chip and pin’ technology works in a much more sophisticated way rendering simple attacks such as this much less probable.
The company has said that the event has cost it $150m but this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg when considering that the company runs over 2000 stores in the US. Quite unsurprisingly the chief executive had little option but to resign from his position.
In response to the revelation the Home Depot’s shares fell by over 2% in the Dow Jones Index as the company tries to get to grips with the blunder.
The details of the cards are reported to have gone on sale on the dark side of the internet as past customers of the store await to see if they are going to fall victim to somebody using their card details. As word gets out about the crime many customers are calling their banks and other institutions to report their card lost or stolen so that with immediate effect their card is blocked, rather than taking a chance.
Krebs suggests that there are signs the perpetrators could be part of an Eastern European gang who have previously conducted the same attack on other US companies such as P.F. Chang’s and Sally Beauty.
If it is part of, or relates to, the same gang then the motives behind the crime (apart from the obvious financial gain) are said to be ‘sanctions’ against the US in retaliation to sanctions imposed by America on Russia in light of recent political events in the area.
Such events are becoming more and more widespread and attacks citing similar sanctions have been seen in other western countries including the UK as the criminal underworld are finding elaborate ways to bring their cause to the fore of international news as well as causing internal security issues within the target countries.