Home Depot data breach confirmed

A Home Depot data breach has been confirmed by the world’s biggest home improvement chain. The retailer says its payment system was hacked in over 2,000 stores in both the US and Canada.

The company says there is no evidence indicating that its stores or customers in Mexico have been affected. So far, it appears that online shoppers’ details were not hacked either.

More than a million debit and credit card shoppers’ details may have been accessed, the company informed. It did not specify exactly how many.

Home Depot first heard about the data breach when a cybersecurity website reported the attack.

PIN numbers probably not accessed

The company says a thorough investigation is underway to determine the full scope, scale and impact of the security breach. It does not believe people’s PIN numbers were accessed.

The investigation is concentrating on all transactions since April 2014.

Concerned customers can access Home Depot’s free identity protection services at:

Home Depot Card
Why do so many Home Depot stores not have terminals that accept cards with a chip in them?
  • Telephone: 1-800-HOMEDEPOT (800-466-3337).

Home Depot chairman and CEO, Frank Blake, said:

“We apologize for the frustration and anxiety this causes our customers, and I want to thank them for their patience and support as we work through this issue. We owe it to our customers to alert them that we now have enough evidence to confirm that a breach has indeed occurred. It’s important to emphasize that no customers will be responsible for fraudulent charges to their accounts.”

Home Depot says it will roll out EMV “Chip & PIN” to all its stores in the United States by the end of this year.

Why is US card security so lax?

Experts say the problem of credit card fraud and hackers penetrating security systems in the United States will intensify before it gets better.

American retailers have the worst security systems regarding shoppers’ card details among the advanced economies. US financial institutions and stores have fallen far behind in the usage of credit/debit cards that store data on computer chips.

The technology is already there, it has been widely used in Europe, Canada, Latin America and Japan for several years.

A report published in December 2013 showed what percentage of card terminals could use the digital chip system (card with a chip in it):

  • United States: 10%,
  • Europe: 94%,
  • Canada: 77%,
  • Latin America: 77%.