'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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?