Could Home Depot Have Prevented Retail Industry’s Biggest Data Breach?


Computer experts in the home improvement chain Home Depot had warned for years that it might be easy prey for hackers, says the New York Times. Despite alarms as far back as 2008, Home Depot was slow to raise its defenses, say ex-employees. Last week, the company confirmed the biggest data breach in retailing history: 56 million compromised customers' credit cards. The data has been seen on black markets and could be used to make $3 billion in illegal purchases.

Long before the attack came to light this month, Home Depot's handling of its computer security was a record of missteps, former employees said. They said the company was slow to respond to early threats and only belatedly took action. In 2012, Home Depot hired a computer engineer to help oversee security at its 2,200 stores. This year that engineer was sentenced to four years in prison for deliberately disabling computers at the company where he previously worked. Company officials said the malware used against Home Depot had not been seen before and would have been difficult to detect. Any card used there between April and Sept. 2 might be vulnerable to being used fraudulently.

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