Sears Suffers Possible Security Breach

Sears Holdings Corp, the retailer that Edward Lampert the manager of a hedge funds operates, is investigating the possibility of a security breach following a series of cyber attacks that took place at other retailers that exposed personal data of millions of different customers.

The review is in its early stage as the digital forensics unit of Verizon Communications and the United States Secret Service are sifting through the computer data of the company looking for traces of any hackers and the extent if any of incursion, according to people familiar with the situation.

Sears, which is attempting to reverse a run of 28 consecutive quarters of sales’ declines, is now facing a possible hack attack that puts shoppers on edge following a flurry of data breaches at the retail level that has tarnished merchants including Target and Neiman Marcus Group.

An investigator working in consultancy work for issuers of major credit cards said the importance of a possible breach of data at Sears could be determined if it is only in a few stores or through the entire POS system of the retailer.

If the entire POS system were compromised, like at Neiman Marcus and Target, it would be much more serious.

A security expert said that merchants are not used to protecting themselves as it is not their business to do so and that has made it easier for second and third tier cyber criminals to hack these companies.

Companies today are finding themselves in limbo between suspecting initially of fraud and the confirmation of the scope and size of being attacked.

A report on the intrusion of Neiman Marcus showed that the company was warned of the possibility of fraudulent payments from credit cards back in December. However, it took a private company until sometime in January to locate the malware and confirm that data had in fact been taken.

Sears stock declined over 2% after the report was made of the investigation. The stock was at $44.75 on Friday at the close of the week’s trading.

The United States Secret Service is leading the investigation of the different attacks at Neiman Marcus and Target that exploited the POS systems, which process over $3 trillion in transactions in the U.S. each year.