US chain Home Depot says attackers stole a vendor's credentials to break in

It also disclosed 53 million email addresses were stolen

Home Depot has shed more light on a recent data breach that compromised 56 million payment cards, saying hackers used login credentials belonging to another company to access its network. It also revealed that 53 million email addresses were also stolen.

The stolen login credentials didn't provide direct access to its point-of-sale terminals, Home Depot said. But once inside, the hackers gained "elevated rights" that allowed them to navigate to other parts of its network and install their malware on self-checkout systems in the US and Canada.

The retailer didn't identify the third-party vendor that was compromised. A Home Depot spokesman said the attack is still under investigation and the company could not comment further.

The attack method mirrors the one used against Target, whose point-of-sale systems were compromised after attackers used login credentials belonging to a heating and ventilation contractor from Pennsylvania, Fazio Mechanical Services.

Faizo maintained a network connection to Target in order to exchange contract and project management data.

Home Depot also disclosed Thursday that files containing 53 million email addresses were also stolen in the credit card breach. The files did not also contain passwords, Home Depot said. The company is notifying the affected customers in the US and Canada.

The retail industry has been shaken by a series of attacks against the point-of-sale devices that process card payments, including at Target, Neiman Marcus, White Lodging, Michaels and The UPS Store.

The malware used is known as a memory scraper, because it scrapes the data left in the RAM of the point-of-sale terminal after the card has been swiped.

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