Target hackers stole vendor credentials to gain access to the retailer's systems late last year, enabling them to steal some 40 million debit and credit card numbers along with the personal information of about 70 million Target customers
Those findings were announced Wednesday by Target Spokeswoman Molly Snyder, who cited a report by investigators hired by the nation's second-largest discount retailer to find the root of the breach that occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. The incident severely damaged the company’s sales and customers' trust.
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Snyder refused to release any further information, adding that Target has since taken extra security precautions, such as limiting or updating access to some platforms to prevent further security breaches, The Associated Press reported
The Target spokeswoman added that the retailer has been working with the Secret Service and the Justice Department to address the data breach.
Earlier Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department is committed to tracking down the thieves, the AP noted.
In an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder said that the government also will hunt down anyone who exploited the stolen data through credit card fraud.
"While we generally do not discuss specific matters under investigation, I can confirm the department is investigating the breach involving the U.S. retailer, Target," Holder said.
In January, a California-based security firm reported that a 17-year-old from Russia had created the malicious software
that allowed shoppers' data from Target and Neiman Marcus to be stolen. The hacker was not identified.
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Following the massive security breach, Target offered its customers a store discount and free credit monitoring
in the hopes of regaining their trust.
On Jan. 23, Reuters reported that the FBI warned U.S. retailers to prepare for more cyber attacks
, after discovering about 20 hacking cases in the past year that involved the same kind of malicious software that was used against Target.
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