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Lessons in Securing Data


“Wow!” That was my exact reaction when I read that Hannaford Bros. became the latest company to suffer a major hacking attack. The unfortunate incident made one thing very clear to me: More retailers—including those using top-notch security standards and solutions—are susceptible to hacking attacks. Now more than ever retailers must go above and beyond traditional means to ensure their sensitive data is protected.

During my 12-plus-year tenure as a retail-technology journalist, I have spent countless hours chatting with Bill Homa, Hannaford’s CIO, about the company’s innovative projects, state-of-the-art network and systems. So upon learning that 4.2 million of the grocer’s credit- and debit-card accounts were reportedly compromised, my first thought was it had to be an inside job.

As more details about the attack surfaced, however, reports implied that savvy outside hackers were behind the attack. By somehow installing damaging malware (malicious software) on the chain’s servers, the thieves intercepted vulnerable consumer data as it was transmitted to Hannaford’s transaction processor, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. 

This leads me to believe that security needs to take a new turn.

“This effort will ensure that all activities remain in line with security best practices,” said Udi Mokady co-founder of Newton, Mass.-based Cyber-ark, a provider of digital vaults that secures and manages an enterprise’s privileged identities and sensitive information.

If Hannaford’s breach is any indication, hackers are getting bolder and smarter at each turn, and their shenanigans often outpace the security efforts of retailers. It is time to stay two steps ahead.

Don’t wait until you’re the latest victim of data theft. As Hannaford’s breach proved, even the best are targeted—and in some cases, losing. Get a plan in place and beat the hackers at their own game.

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