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Forever 21 clothing stores hit by credit card data breach after encryption failure

Clothing retailer Forever 21 is telling customers to keep a close eye on their credit card statements, after the American fashion outlet warned that it had suffered a data breach at some of its stores.

In a brief statement posted on its website, Forever 21 said that it had received a report from a third party suggesting its security had been compromised.

Further investigation revealed that although the company introduced encryption and improved security systems in 2015 following a spate of attacks against other retailers, “certain point of sale devices in some Forever 21 stores were affected” because encryption “was not in operation.”

The company says that it is still gathering evidence, and that it is too early to share more information such as which particular stores may have been affected and the time periods during which customers may have been put at risk.

As such, the advice Forever 21 offers should probably be heeded by all of its customers:

“It is always advisable for customers to closely monitor their payment card statements. If customers see an
unauthorized charge, they should immediately notify the bank that issued the card. Payment card network rules generally state that cardholders are not responsible for such charges.”

Personally I’m disappointed that Forever 21 found the space on the front page of its website to promote fashionably tasteless Christmas jumpers, but couldn’t manage to include a link to its security advisory.

This is, sadly, not completely uncharted territory for customers of Forever 21.

Back in 2008, the US Department of Justice charged a gang that stole hundreds of millions of shoppers’ credit card details from major retailers including TJ Maxx, Barnes & Noble, Boston Market, and Forever 21.

Gang ringleader Albert Gonzalez is currently serving a 20-year sentence. So I don’t think we can blame him for this latest breach, but it does sound as if Forever 21 dropped the ball if it failed to notice that its point-of-sales terminals were not working properly, opening opportunities for PoS malware to steal customers’ sensitive credit card data.

About the author

Graham CLULEY

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s, having been employed by companies such as Sophos, McAfee and Dr Solomon's. He has given talks about computer security for some of the world's largest companies, worked with law enforcement agencies on investigations into hacking groups, and regularly appears on TV and radio explaining computer security threats.

Graham Cluley was inducted into the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame in 2011, and was given an honorary mention in the "10 Greatest Britons in IT History" for his contribution as a leading authority in internet security.

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