Washington. Mar 30, 2007. At least 45.7 million credit and debit card numbers from customers in the United States, Britain and Canada were stolen over a period of several years from the computers of TJX, the discount retail giant disclosed in a regulatory filing this week.
The figure, which the company said is incomplete, represents the largest reported computer theft of personal data in history.
The computer breach is significant not only because of its scope but also because the hacker or hackers had access to the decryption tool used to decipher sensitive encrypted information and an ability to intercept data as shoppers’ credit transactions were being approved.
Security and privacy experts said TJX is the most glaring example of a spreading trend in industry and government. A soon-to-be-released study by the Ponemon Institute, a privacy research organization, of 649 companies and government agency information security personnel found that 61 percent thought their organizations were ill-equipped to respond to hacker threats.
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