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US department store Kmart hit by Egregor ransomware

Struggling retailer's HR system remains offline after an attack on its network servers

The exterior of an old Kmart store located in California, USA

Ailing US department store retailer Kmart has reportedly had its human resources site shut down by a ransomware attack.

The chain was attacked by the Egregor ransomware operation earlier this week which resulted in a number of its servers on its network becoming encrypted.

A ransom note has now been shared with Bleeping Computer that shows that an HR website used by the store, 88sears.com, has also been brought offline by hackers. Kmart’s e-commerce site remains unaffected.

This HR site is operated by Kmart parent company Transformco. At the time of writing, the website displays a runtime error page with a warning that it was not secure.

Egregor has only been in existence since September this year, but it has already attacked several other well-known companies including bookseller Barnes and Noble. The ransomware is known to steal data from organisations, shutting down networks, and demanding payment in exchange for not releasing sensitive data, or removing encryption.

At present, it is not known if hackers have stolen data, what systems are encrypted, or how much money has been demanded.

Trevor Morgan, product manager at security services firm comforte AG, told us that one of the biggest fears associated with an Egregor ransomware attack is the likelihood of unprotected files being stolen prior to the encrypting of devices.

“This sensitive data is then used as leverage to extract a ransom from the target (in this case, the retailer Kmart). Otherwise, the operation leaks the stolen data online," said Morgan. "While the report does not conclusively indicate whether threat actors gained access to Kmart’s most sensitive data, it serves as yet another reminder for all businesses to apply the strongest level of data-centric security to their datasets,” he said.

Kmart once was one of the largest department store chains in the US, operating across 2,200 sites at its peak. Following a series of bankruptcies and decline, the chain now owns just 43 stores across the entirety of the US.

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