Kroger is latest victim of third-party software data breach

BOSTON (AP) — Kroger Co said it was among the multiple victims of a data breach involving a third-party vendor’s file-transfer service and is notifying potentially impacted customers, offering them free credit monitoring.

The Cincinnati-based grocery and pharmacy chain said in a statement Friday that it believes less than one per cent of its customers were affected — specifically some using its Health and Money Services — as well as some current and former employees because a number of personnel records were apparently viewed.

Kroger said the breach did not affect Kroger stores’ information technology (IT) systems or grocery store systems or data and there was no indication that fraud involving accessed personal data had occurred.

The company, which has 2,750 grocery retail stores and 2,200 pharmacies nationwide, did not immediately respond to questions including how many customers might have been affected.

Kroger said it was among victims of the December hack of a file-transfer product called FTA developed by Accellion, a California-based company, and that it was notified of the incident on January 23, when it discontinued use of Accellion’s services. Companies use the file-transfer product to share large amounts of data and hefty email attachments.

Accellion has more than 3,000 customers worldwide. It has said that the affected product was 20 years old and nearing the end of its life. The company said on February 1 that it had patched all known FTA vulnerabilities.

Other Accellion customers affected by the hack include the University of Colorado, Washington State’s auditor, Australia’s financial regulator, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the prominent United States (US) law firm Jones Day.

For Washington State’s auditor, the hack was particularly serious. Exposed were files on 1.6 million claims obtained in its investigation of massive unemployment fraud last year.

In the case of Jones Day, cybercriminals seeking to extort the law firm dumped an estimated 85 gigabytes of data online they claimed to have stolen.

File photo shows a Kroger store in Houston. PHOTO: AP