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What you need to know about the Home Depot data breach

Steve Ragan | Sept. 10, 2014
Home Depot has confirmed reports of a data breach impacting stores in the U.S. and Canada

Is this the same malware that was used against Target?
That isn't one-hundred percent proven yet. However, sources close to the investigation have stated that a variant of the malware used against Target was discovered on the Home Depot network.

The reason they know it was a variant is because Trend Micro disclosed its existence in August. While most AV vendors will detect BlackPOS based on signature alone, this variant was only being detected by McAfee.

The best way to view this information is that BlackPOS -- the malware used against Target -- is just one family of malware that targets retail POS implementations. A variant of this malware was likely used against Home Depot.

What impact is this going to have on Home Depot?
Again, that's unclear. However, it's not going to be good. Immediately after the breach was officially confirmed, several experts made comments about the retailer's slow reaction.

The big problem is that Home Depot didn't get out in front of the story while they could. Instead, investigative journalist Brian Krebs was the public's primary source of information.

In a statement to CSO, Eric Cowperthwaite, vice president of advanced security and strategy for Core Security said:

"Honestly, Home Depot is in trouble here. Not only did Krebs break the news of their breach before they did, but now it turns out that they are likely to have been breached for six months, at least.

"This is not how you handle a significant security breach, nor will it provide any sort of confidence that Home Depot can solve the problem going forward. Some organizations have been able to turn the negative of a breach into a generally positive outcome by attacking the issue head on. What Home Depot needs to do now is bring in some world-class investigative capability, get a grip on what is going on, how long it has been going on and turn this thing around."

By contrast, the breach at Target had several repercussions. The company experienced a 46 percent drop in profits in Q4 2013, and said they will spend an estimated $100 million on improvements to their infrastructure. In addition, in the aftermath of the incident, their CEO stepped down.

As for Home Depot, the public fallout is already beginning. Last week, a class action lawsuit was filed by several customers in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.

The complaint alleges that Home Depot "failed to meet its legal obligation to protect their credit card and personal information and failed to timely warn them that such information had been stolen or that the security and privacy of such information had been compromised."

"On behalf of themselves and all class members, Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief and damages suffered by class members as a result of Home Depot's actions, including for Home Depot's alleged violation of 38 States' data breach statutes."


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