The Kmart (owned by Sears Holdings) breach story hit overnight in the US – with a credit card breach hitting for a second times in three years. The story is yet another example of retailers coming under attack again and especially the major chains, IT security experts from Sears Holding, High-Tech Bridge and Balabit commented below.

Howard Riefs, a Spokesman at Sears Holding:

“Our Kmart store payment data systems were infected with a form of malicious code that was undetectable by current anti-virus systems and application controls. Once aware of the new malicious code, we quickly removed it and contained the event. We are confident that our customers can safely use their credit and debit cards in our retail stores,” Howard Riefs, a spokesman for Sears Holding, said in a statement to Patch.

“Based on the forensic investigation, NO PERSONAL identifying information (including names, addresses, social security numbers, and email addresses) was obtained by those criminally responsible. However, we believe certain credit card numbers have been compromised. Nevertheless, in light of our EMV compliant point of sale systems, which rolled out last year, we believe the exposure to cardholder data that can be used to create counterfeit cards is limited.”

Ilia Kolochenko, CEO at High-Tech Bridge:

Ilia Kolochenko“Sears Holding’s response is surprisingly concise and late. It can be technically challenging and even impossible to identify all customers whose credit cards data was breached, but at least they should have identified all compromised locations. Antivirus has also nothing to do in the story – payment systems should be thoroughly isolated and restrict any third-party code or applications from running on them. Apparently, such fundamental precautions were at least partially missing.

It’s unfortunately frequent for large companies and organizations to rely on basic security solutions, such as antivirus, ignoring secure design of critical systems. If you don’t build security in a system from the very beginning – no antivirus will ever help.”

Csaba Krasznay, PhD, Product Evangelist at Balabit:

“This is another example what cybersecurity experts are saying day by day: no IT systems can stay safe if they hold something valuable. More than ten years ago, T.J. Maxx suffered a very similar data breach when approx. 100 million card data was stolen. That incident helped the drive for credit card companies to introduce PCI DSS as a mandatory security standard for everyone who manages card data. If Kmart was really able to avoid large scale data leakage, then we can be sure that PCI DSS is mature and useful enough in these circumstances, at this point.”

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