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Grocery Data Breach Offers Important Endpoint Lessons

The data breach that struck 300 or so of grocery retailer Hannaford Bros.' stores and snatched over 4 million credit and debit card numbers carries some important lessons in how not to secure your network -- and your customers' private information.
The data breach that struck 300 or so of grocery retailer Hannaford Bros.' stores and snatched over 4 million credit and debit card numbers carries some important lessons in how not to secure your network -- and your customers' private information.The credit card grab was locally based, it turns out, with malware found on 300 store servers, scanning for card numbers and forwarding them to the crooks who planted the software (no word yet on who they are.)

The warning point here -- and the aspect that's attracting a fair amount of attention -- is the endpoint-based nature of the breach. The malware -- which may have been custom-fashioned for the Hannaford Bros. attack -- worked locally, rather than seeking to penetrate central datastores.

In other words, every point in your network must be hardened and re-hardened, not just the core and, tellingly, not just the conduits through which sensitive data moves inward from the endpoints.

It's a test that Hannaford failed 300 times -- or 4.2 million times, depending on your perspective.

One thing the company is doing right, from my perspective, is being absolutely upfront -- as in opening page -- about the breach.

Take a look at the Hannaford Bros. Web site and the first thing you see is a credit card scam alert banner.

Included in the notification is a good letter from the company ceo, as well as a pretty good Q/A.

Been better, needless to say, if Hannaford had been in front of all of its endpoints; but failing that, they've taken a strong public stand without too much waffling or dodging, and that's a good lesson.