In the last few days, security officials have discovered an influx of stolen credit and debit cards available for purchase on the black market. The cards are being sold online by Eastern European hackers. This is just the latest in a long line of security breaches.
Bank employees are currently in the process of buying back the stolen cards issued from their institutions, and cross-checking the recent transactions to find a common retailer. In this latest debacle, it seems that Home Depot is the unfortunate victim. The New York Times reports that Brian Krebs has found a 99.4 percent match between zip codes listed on the illegal carding sites and Home Depot store locations.
It is possible the hackers had access to all Home Depot transactions since late April, giving them about four months to gather private information. The breach is believed to have affected most of the brand's 2200 stores, which would make it an even larger breach than the Target incident of last year.
A spokesperson for Home Depot, Paula Drake, told The New York Times that members of its security team "have been working around the clock since we first became aware of a potential breach Tuesday morning." She also reported that customers would not be responsible for fraudulent charges on their credit cards, and would be eligible for free credit monitoring and identity protection services.
According to Business Insider, yesterday Home Depot shares fell 2.4 percent to close at 89 dollars on the New York Stock Exchange.
It's a great idea to scan your existing POS system for malware, but it's an even better one to make the switch to a more secure card processing software. If there's anything to be learned from the unfortunate recent string of breaches, it's that the investment in money and effort now will save you money and headaches later.