'Hacker safe' Web site gets hit by hacker

Geeks.com tells customers that their personal and financial data may have been compromised

Just because a Web site has a certification claiming that it is virtually hackproof, that doesn't necessarily mean it's immune to all intrusions.

A case in point is Geeks.com, which on Friday began notifying an unspecified number of customers that their personal and financial data may have been compromised by an intrusion into the systems that run the online technology retailer's Web site. Geeks.com, whose formal business name is Genica, said in a letter to customers that it discovered the security breach on Dec. 5.

The compromised information included the names, addresses, telephone numbers and Visa credit card numbers of an unspecified number of customers who had shopped at Geeks.com, according to a copy of the letter that was posted on The Consumerist blog.

Geeks.com is a US$150 million company specializing in the sale of computer-related excess inventory and manufacturers' closeouts. Its Web site prominently proclaims that it is tested on a daily basis by ScanAlert, a vendor in California, that agreed in October to be acquired by McAfee (download PDF).

ScanAlert says its vulnerability scanning service is designed to constantly monitor Web sites for vulnerabilities that could compromise customer data. The service is used by more than 250,000 Web sites, of which about 80,000 -- including Geeks.com -- display ScanAlert's "Hacker Safe" logo. ScanAlert describes the logo as a "trustmark" that is designed to help reassure consumers about a site's security precautions.

McAfee officials weren't immediately available to comment on what might have happened at Geeks.com.

A telephone operator at Geeks.com's headquarters in Oceanside, Calif., said that she was unable to find anyone at the retailer who could comment about the incident. She instead provided a toll-free telephone number -- (888) 529-6261 -- that Geeks.com has set up to assist customers with questions and concerns related to the incident.

In addition to that number, last week's notification included a number for non-US residents to call, suggesting that the breach may have affected customers in other countries as well.

The letter indicated that both numbers would be operational beginning tomorrow. However, an operator answered the toll-free number this morning and said that a company representative would be in touch shortly with more information about the incident.

According to the letter, which was signed by Jerry Harken, chief of security at Geeks.com, the intrusion has been reported to local law enforcement authorities as well as to the US Secret Service. The incident has also been reported to Visa, Harken said, without providing any indication of why only Visa card numbers appear to have been compromised.

In addition, Geeks.com has brought in outside help to investigate the intrusion. "We have engaged an outside, nationally recognized security firm to determine how this incident occurred and to confirm that information we obtain is protected to the fullest extent reasonably possible," Harken wrote.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?