First notified in November of a data breach incident, popular clothing retailer Forever 21 has now confirmed that hackers stole credit card information from its stores throughout the country for several months during 2017.
Although the company did not yet specify the total number of its customers affected by the breach, it did confirm that malware was installed on some point of sale (POS) systems in stores across the U.S. at varying times between April 3, 2017, and November 18, 2017.
According to the company's investigation, which is still ongoing, the malware was designed to search for and likely steal sensitive customer credit card data, including credit card numbers, expiration dates, verification codes and, in some cases, cardholder names.
Forever 21 has been using encryption technology since 2015 to protect its payment processing systems, but during the investigation, the company found that some POS terminals at certain stores had their encryption switched off, which allowed hackers to install the malware.
However, according to the company, not every POS terminal in affected stores was infected with the malware and not every store was impacted during the full-time period (roughly 8 months) of the breach.
In fact, in some cases, payment card data stored in certain system logs before April 3rd were also exposed in the breach.
The company also assured its online customers that payment cards used on its website (forever21.com) were not affected by the breach.
Since payment processing systems outside of the United States work differently, it should not be impacted by the security breach, but the retailer said it's still investigating whether non-US stores were affected or not.
Forever 21 advised customers who shopped at its stores to stay vigilant and keep an eye on their credit transactions for any suspicious activity, and immediately notify their banks that issued the card if found any.
The company has promised to continue working with "security firms to enhance" their security measures.