Home Depot Hack, Much Larger Than Target, Security Tiger Team Ignored By Execs For Years

Attention Home Depot shoppers, your credit and/or debit card information may be compromised. The hardware chain confirmed that a recent cyber attack is estimated to have put the payment card information of around 56 million unique credit and debit cards at risk due to malware that it suspects has been present between April and September 2014. That makes it a bigger breach than the one that hit Target earlier this year.

"We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and anxiety this has caused, and want to reassure them that they will not be liable for fraudulent charges," said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. "From the time this investigation began, our guiding principle has been to put our customers first, and we will continue to do so."

Home Depot Scanner
Image Source: Flickr (Mike Mozart)

Adding insult to mass injury, former Home Depot employees who worked for the chain's cybersecurity team told The New York Times that they warned the company for years that it would be an easy hit for hackers. They said that Home Depot has a history of being slow to respond to early security threats, and that in recent years it was leaning on outdated software to protect its infrastructure, including scanned systems that processed customer information. One of the ex-employees even warned friends to use cash instead of credit cards because of the security risk.

It gets worse. In 2012, Home Depot hired a computer engineer to shore up its security at all of its 2,200 stores. That engineer is now serving a four-year prison sentence for intentionally disabling computers at the firm where he previously worked, NYT reports.

This is a big wake-up call for Home Depot, along with several other retailers that have been struck by hackers in recent months, it has a lot of work to do in order to beef up its security. In the meantime, if you shopped at Home Depot and paid with a payment card dating back to April of this year, you'll want to be extra diligent about keeping an eye on your bank accounts.