The retail sector may not know it yet, but their company servers may have security flaws that could see hackers take advantage and steal customers' personal and private data, including financial data, the United States Homeland Security Department says.
The announcement is likely to continue to worry the average consumer, who is concerned the personal information they give to companies could fall into the wrong hands.
Homeland Security is calling on all business, large and small, to make it a point to investigate their point-of-sale systems for the malware software Backoff that the government discovered last year and that could threaten personal data when making a purchase.
The announcement comes after the United Parcel Service discovered that it had the malware at 51 stores nationwide. Although the company says it doesn't believe there has been any fraudulent activity, hackers may have been able to take names, addresses, email addresses and credit card information.
According to security experts, Backoff is not unique, but is similar to other malware that agencies and private investigators have discovered in recent years. The software unearths weak points in remote access points and is able to download much of the information through tricking the system to believe it belongs in the computer.
Jerome Segura, a senior security researcher at Malware Bytes, says that hackers are using more sophisticated methods of getting into computer systems, which has made battling against them much more difficult, even as more and more cyberattacks are being reported.
"Once the bad guys realized they were able to penetrate larger networks, they saw the opportunity to develop malware that's specifically for credit cards and can evade antivirus programs," he said.
The retail sector has been hit hard by hackers, including major companies Target and eBay revealing that millions of users' information had been compromised. The latest attack was on 180 Supervalu stores across the country, with hackers taking personal and financial data, Tech Times reports.
According to Supervalu, hackers appear to have been able to access a network the company has that stores transaction data, including account numbers, credit card expiration dates, cardholders' names and other personal information.
Homeland Security hopes that businesses will get out in front of potential hacks if they follow its urgings to look into how their security systems fuction, search for malware and make updates. Doing so may help reduce the frustration that many customers currently have when hearing of the latest security attack.