Feeds

TJX lost up to 45.6m card numbers

King of breaches

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

TJX has taken the crown for presiding over the largest credit card heist ever, with a tally of 45.6m numbers lost to unknown thieves who intruded on the US-based retailing giant's networks over a span of 17 months. Personal information, often including social security numbers, for at least 451,000 was also lifted.

There's no reason to believe the theft stopped there. The intruders were able to conceal much of the contents they looted and in the regular course of business TJX administrators deleted many of the files believed stolen. Investigators may never know the true extent of the pilfering, TJX warned.

"Given the scale and geographic scope of our business and computer systems and the time frames involved in the computer intrusion, our investigation has required a substantial period of time to date and is not completed," the company said in a filing (PDF) with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Since January, when TJX first said it discovered a breach of sensitive customer data, the company's disclosures have been wanting for details. An update a month later did little to satisfy our need to know. The latest report is slightly improved, offering the following time line:

On December 18, the company initiated an investigation after discovering suspicious software on its network. In short order, IBM and General Dynamics were called in to assist in the probe, and on December 21 they determined there was good reason to believe there was indeed an intruder who remained on the computer network. The investigators devised a plan to contain and monitor the intrusion.

On December 22, TJX met with law enforcement officials to brief them on the intrusion. The law enforcement agencies included the US Secret Service, which asked TJX to withhold disclosure of the breach so its cover wouldn't be blown.

On December 27, the company for the first time determined that customer information was among the data stolen. TJX updated officials of banks and law enforcement of that finding on January 3. Investigators discovered yet more burgled customer details 10 days later.

On January 17, TJX first notified the public, and a day later it learned the intrusion began much earlier than previously believed. The company now says its network was probably breached from July, 2005 to December, 2006. The servers were located in the US and the UK.

At risk are credit and debit card numbers for customers of TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and AJ Wright stores in the US and Puerto Rico, customers of Winners and HomeSense stores in Canada and customers of TK Maxx stores in the UK.

To the credit of TJX, the company said customer names and addresses were not included with payment card data lifted from the US network. TJX's US operation often didn't store "Track 2" data from the a card's magnetic stripe for transactions after September 2003. And by April 3 of last year, the company had started masking payment card PINs and other portions of payment card transactions. This was a great first step but begs the question why the retailer didn't do more to protect its customers.

Individuals suspected of using payment card information stolen from TJX were arrested last week in Florida.

Following yesterday's disclosure, the TJX debacle became the largest known theft of credit card data, topping the previous record held by CardSystems Solutions of 40 million records compromised in 2005, ComputerWorld reported. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.