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Online Retailer Hacked

December 22, 2000 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A hacker broke into the computer systems of earlier this week, forcing the online retailer to alert credit card companies and 3.5 million customers about the breach and the possibility that their financial information was accessed.

Egghead had been in the process of upgrading its computer systems over the past few months, but the improvements were unable to stop the unknown online invader who hacked the system.

`` has discovered that a hacker has accessed our computer systems, potentially including our customer databases,″ the company said in a statement released Friday.


The break-in was under investigation and a spokeswoman for Egghead said the Menlo Park-based technology products retailer had notified credit card companies and the local FBI office.

The hacker did not deface the Web site or shut the service down, but did manage to infiltrate sensitive computer areas. The FBI is investigating how long the hacker was in the system and what he or she did while there, said.

In response to the hacker activity, Egghead has hired computer security specialists Kroll Worldwide to evalute its system, Egghead spokeswoman Shoreen Maghame said.

Credit card theft from online repositories has plagued several Web sites this year.

Last week, the FBI in Los Angeles confirmed they were looking for a hacker who put thousands of stolen credit-card numbers from on the Web after a $100,000 extortion demand was ignored.

Western Union took its Web site off-line for five days in September after hackers stole 15,000 credit or debit card numbers. In February, a hacker infiltrated the computers of RealNames, an Internet search service with as many as 20,000 card numbers on file.

Shares of fell 12.5 cents, or 16 percent, to close at 65.6 cents Friday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.


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