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Kmart data breach compromises customers' debit, credit card information

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The information technology team of discount retailer Kmart discovered a breach in its payment system on October 9.

The announcement came just a few weeks after Home Depot's own payment system was also attacked, affecting 56 million debit and credit cards of customers from the U.S. and Canada. An attack of the same nature also occurred at Target right before the Christmas season in 2013; the incident affected 40 million credit and debit card users.

It was learned that the attack at Kmart began in early September but was only detected last week. So far, there were no personal information, email addresses, debit PIN numbers and social security numbers that were stolen by the hackers. Shoppers at Kmart.com don't seem to be affected by the attack either.

"According to the security experts Kmart has been working with, the Kmart store payment data systems were infected with a form of malware that was undetectable by current anti-virus systems," the company said. "Kmart was able to quickly remove the malware. However, Kmart believes certain debit and credit card numbers have been compromised."

Kmart added that it is working hand in hand with IT security firms, banking partners and federal law enforcement officers in the ongoing investigation. The company is even deploying a more advanced software as an attempt to protect the information of its customers.

Sears Holdings, which operates the discount retail shop, advises customers to visit the official kmart.com site where they can get the latest update and send their queries to the customer care center.

Kmart will be providing its customers with free credit-monitoring protection. This would cover those who shopped at Kmart from September of this year up to Oct. 9 using their debit or credit card. As long as shoppers reported unauthorized charges in a timely manner, they would be free from any liability. This policy on non-liability is granted by most credit card companies.

The hacking incidents at Kmart and other retail shops have renewed the clamor among retailers, banks and credit card companies to speed up the adoption of microchips in U.S. debit and credit cards. Unlike the current cards, which are designed with magnetic strips, chip cards are safer since they use a one-time code that is sent directly to the register.

Kmart has a network of 1,200 brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S. The company currently struggles to increase sales and tries to generate cash by selling off assets. The latest hacking incident deals a huge blow on the company, which is yet to recover from losses in the past nine straight quarters.

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