Home Depot: 56 million cards involved in hack

The home improvement retail chain’s data breach was about half the size of Target’s last year.

In the two weeks since Home Depot first announced it was investigating a possible data breach at its stores, a whole lot of information has come to light.

The retailer confirmed that malware has been present in its payment systems since April. Thursday, the company released a statement in which it confirmed just how many customers’ payment cards could be at risk: 56 million.

The statement reads, in part:

To protect customer data until the malware was eliminated, any terminals identified with malware were taken out of service, and the company quickly put in place other security enhancements. The hackers’ method of entry has been closed off, the malware has been eliminated from the company’s systems, and the company has rolled out enhanced encryption of payment data to all U.S. stores.

Like the numerous other brands that have suffered data breaches in the last 12 months, Home Depot has set up a hotline for customers to call to set up free credit monitoring.

There’s also a section of the statement about Home Depot’s financials, and how the company expects costs from the breach to “have a material adverse effect on The Home Depot’s financial results in the fourth quarter and/or future periods.”

In the months after its breach, Target reported a massive drop in profits. Target’s breach was nearly twice as big, however, possibly impacting a reported 110 million customers.

CNBC reported Thursday that Home Depot’s brand perception has already taken a hit in the days since the breach was first reported. Its rating in the YouGov BrandIndex fell from around a 20 to a five, which is a sizable drop. However, it was minimal compared to the one Target experienced in the wake of its breach. It fell from a 28 to a negative 26.

Scores on the BrandIndex range from 100 to negative 100.

“I would say that the first one got all the press,” Jack Trout, president of marketing firm Trout & Partners, told CNBC. “To be No. 1 in a negative way is never good.”

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