Sally Beauty investigates possible second card breach

It's not known if the latest incident is related to last year's breach, the company said

Sally Beauty Holdings said it is investigating another possible payment card breach, about a year after it reported a similar cyberattack.

The retail chain, which runs nearly 2,800 stores in the U.S., said it has received reports of "unusual activity" involving payment cards used at some of its stores during the last week of April. Law enforcement has been contacted, the company said Monday.

It did not say if the second incident is related to last year's attack. "Until this investigation is completed, it is difficult to determine with certainty the scope or nature of any potential incident," it said.

Last February, attackers stole payment card information between Feb. 21 through Feb. 28 at some Sally Beauty stores. Malware was installed on point-of-sale systems that collected data from the magnetic stripes on the back of payment cards.

The attackers were suspected of collecting Track 2 data from the cards, according to Sally Beauty's 2014 annual report. Magnetic stripes contain three data tracks, and the second one contains the payment card's number and expiration date.

Sally Beauty's latest problem comes as the company has been upgrading its point-of-sale systems across its U.S. stores and the security of its IT systems.

It also is not the only large company to report it may have been attacked again. White Lodging Services of Merrillville, Indiana, which manages hotels under brands include Marriott, confirmed a second breach last month after reporting one in February 2014.

Retailers have been struggling with cyberattacks aimed at stealing payment card data, which then is quickly offered for sale on black-market websites.

Hackers stole 56 million payment cards from Home Depot, which was breached between April and September 2014. Target had 40 million credit and debit card numbers stolen in an attack in late 2013.

Both of those breaches were attributed to malware on point-of-sale systems, which process card transactions. The type of malware, known as a RAM scraper, collects a card's details as the information sits in a computer's memory.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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