Feeds

Geeks.com settles charges claiming its security was crap

A decade in the stockade

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Geeks.com, a large online seller of computer hardware and software, has agreed to allow federal regulators to monitor its website security for 10 years to settle charges it violated federal laws requiring it to adequately safeguard sensitive customer data.

The agreement, which also applies to sister site computergeeks.com, settles a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission that accused the online retailers of misleading its customers about the safety of their personal information. Names, addresses, credit card numbers, and other data were routinely sent unencrypted to authorization services, making them ripe for identity thieves, the complaint alleged.

What's more, the sites carried privacy policies that claimed the company employed "secure technology, privacy protection controls and restrictions on employee access in order to safeguard your personal information."

During a six-month period starting in January of 2007, the sites were breached repeatedly by hackers who used simple SQL injections to siphon credit card numbers, expiration dates, and other sensitive details on hundreds of customers. Website operators didn't learn of the attacks until the following December. During the time of the breach, Geeks.com proudly displayed a banner provided by security provider McAfee claiming the site was "Hacker Safe".

The sites have since closed the security holes and notified law enforcement authorities.

Genica Corp., the websites' parent company, has agreed to submit its website security to outside auditing by qualified security professionals every other year and to make the results available to FTC officials. The agreement will remain in place for the next decade. The company also agreed not to make misleading claims about its website security.

Even with federal charges settled, Genica is likely to have some explaining to do with the credit card industry. Payment card industry regulations require merchants to follow a maze of procedures designed to protect card data as it's stored on servers and zapped to authorization services. Penalties for violations can be steep.

The FTC's complaint and settlement (both of them PDFs) are here, and here respectively. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.