A cyberattack that hit 196 servers and more than 1,000 network devices has left Ace Hardware struggling to restore its IT systems after five days of disruption.
In a letter to franchise owners on Monday morning, which was leaked by a third-party contractor on Reddit, Ace President and CEO John Venhuizen said that "many of our key operating systems, including ACENET, our Warehouse Management Systems, the Ace Retailer Mobile Assistant (ARMA), Hot Sheets, Invoices, Ace Rewards and the Care Center's phone system have been interrupted or suspended. More specifically, the impact of this incident is resulting in disruptions to your shipments."
Ace Hardware confirmed to Bleeping Computer that about 14% of its servers and 29% of its networked devices were affected by the cyberattack. The company said it has restored more than half of the impacted servers and is working to bring the rest back online as soon as possible.
However, the ransomware incident has caused significant disruptions to Ace's operations and customer service. The company's online ordering system is still down, preventing customers from placing orders through its website or mobile app. This is a major setback for Ace, especially as it prepares for the busy holiday shopping season. Moreover, some store owners have reported receiving phishing emails from hackers posing as Ace representatives, trying to trick them into revealing sensitive information or paying a ransom.
According to a warning notice sent to retailers, cybercriminals are exploiting the data they obtained from the recent breach of Ace Hardware Corporation to launch two types of scams. The first scam involves sending a fake email that appears to come from the Ace Finance Department, asking the retailer to transfer electronic payments to a different bank account while the systems are being restored. The second scam involves calling an Ace store and pretending to be an Epicor employee, requesting access to the store's computer system through passwords or other remote methods. Epicor Software Corporation is a company that provides business software solutions for retail, manufacturing, and distribution sectors, and is likely a contractor of Ace.
"These breaches should alert organizations of all sizes to adopt a zero-trust approach, enable MFA, and use strong and unique passwords," says Keeper's Guccione. He also emphasizes the need for employee education on how to spot phishing emails or smishing texts. "Users are the final barrier, and organizations must train their employees regularly to recognize the latest attack methods," he says.
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