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Supervalu supermarket stores stung by sneaky sales system scammers

Up to 1,000 stores could have been hacked

Supervalu, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the US, is warning customers who shopped with them between June 22 and July 17 to check their bank statements, after investigators discovered hackers have been at work.

"The safety of our customers' personal information is a top priority for us," said CEO Sam Duncan. "The intrusion was identified by our internal team, it was quickly contained, and we have had no evidence of any misuse of any customer data. I regret any inconvenience that this may cause our customers but want to assure them that it is safe to shop in our stores."

Supervalu and parent company AB Acquisition have warned that crooks may have collected credit card numbers, expiration dates, other numerical information and/or the cardholder's name from point of sale terminals in its stores, as well as the Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher's, Shop 'n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy franchises.

In addition, the hackers may also have hit stores that the Supervalu chain sold off last year but which still handles some financial transactions for. These include the Albertson's, Acme, Shaw's and Star Market chains.

"This is another example of an incompetent retail CEO incapable of providing leadership and process to secure their organization. Just as the CEO must manage his staff and assets, the CEO is responsible for protecting the security of his network and his customers," said Philip Lieberman, president of security firm Lieberman Software.

"As in the Target case, the board should fire both the CEO and the senior IT management that allowed this to occur for gross negligence. Technology and processes exist to eliminate this class of problem, but the CEO chose not to or could not implement them due to lack of knowledge or will."

Supervalu has said that there's no evidence that customers funds have been stolen due to the hack but customers should check their statements just in case. If money is missing the firm will provide a 12-month subscription to consumer identity protection provider AllClear ID.

It's not the first time the Supervalu brand has been targeted by the computer criminal community. In 2007 hackers got control of the firm's bank accounts and stole $10,128,941.94 from the firm. Last year, financial details on 70,000 of Supervalu Getaway customers were nabbed by thieves.

While the firm hasn't confirmed the exact vector of the attack it looks as though the company's point of sale terminals were infected by malware. Such attacks are becoming increasingly popular among hackers due to poor, or non-existent security in POS terminals.

"We always knew that POS were vulnerable and inherently weak. It was merely a matter of time before this issue exploded. Honestly? At this point, it’s much safe to infer that no POS is really safe," said Pierluigi Stella, CTO of cloud security firm Network Box.

"The POS is a MS Windows system, but it only runs the POS application; usually nothing else is to be done on it. No email, no web access. So, theoretically, no malware should be downloaded on that machine. And yet, that is often precisely the case." ®

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