After the massive security breach Target experienced in 2013, Home Depot management had the best intentions in immediately planning for a similar attack being directed at them. Unfortunately, they were about only a quarter of the way through their plans to beef up security at their stores when the big-box DIY chain recently announced that they’ve been hacked, with potentially tens of millions of customers exposed. To add insult to injury, its beginning to look like hackers penetrated Home Depot point-of-sale systems as far back as April.
What this means for you:
By now, you probably realize that there’s not much you can do other than what you’ve already been doing: use credit cards, not debit cards, wherever possible, and always keep an eagle-eye on your purchase history. Credit card companies are already doing a pretty good job with their fraud-detection algorithms – don’t ignore those automated calls when you get them. Given the massive number of breaches happening, it’s very likely that your credit card number has been stolen (or soon will be) if you shop at most large chain-based retailers.
As a business, you can take a lesson from Home Depot’s woes: move quickly. Home Depot’s implementation was likely hampered by both logistical complexity (hardware replacement at thousands of locations scattered across a gigantic area) as well as “traditional” corporate bureaucracy. There’s not much to be done for the first part except to take it into account when combating the second part, which while understandable, will lead to disastrous consequences. Cyber criminals aren’t slowed by corporate chain-of-command – don’t let your decision making process expose you to a damaging security breach.