Security

Card Scammers Hack Top Restaurants In POS Attack

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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A list of well-known restaurants across the US are amongst those affected by the latest mass point-of-sale breach

A vendor of point-of-sale services has acknowledged a security breach that led to payment card fraud at a list of high-end restaurants across the US, in the latest hacking incident to affect the country’s retail sector.

24×7 Hospitality Technology said in a letter to its customers that it was affected by a network intrusion that allowed attackers to install the PoSeidon malware on cash registers at affected retailers.

The company provides point-of-sale services to thousands of restaurants and hotels across the US.

Scam

PoSeidon malware

PoSeidon records payment card information when the card is swiped at an infected point-of-sale terminal and sends the data back to criminals, who can then use it to make other purchases.

The breach extended from late October of last year to mid-January, according to 24×7, which described the attack as a “sophisticated network intrusion through a remote access application”.

Investigative journalist Brian Krebs said several financial institutions contacted him last month regarding “a great deal” of payment card fraud in which most of those affected had recently visited one of the well-known restaurants owned by Select Restaurants, whose point-of-sale terminals are operated by 24×7.

The restaurants involved include Top of the Hub, which occupies the top floor of a skyscraper overlooking Boston’s harbour, and Parker’s Lighthouse, an upscale waterfront venue in Long Beach, California, amongst others, according to Krebs.

24×7 said many of its thousands of other customers are also likely to have been affected.

“An unauthorized third party gained access to some, but not all, of 24x7customers’ systems,” the company’s president, Todd Baker, wrote in a letter to Select Restaurants, a copy of which was published by Krebs. “As of February 14, 2017, we can confirm that the identified malware has been contained and eradicated relative to the machines and terminals associated with the attached locations where the malware was confirmed as present.”

hackerCard scams

Such intrusions have resulted in high-profile payment card scams, such as those that affected Home Depot and Target, but Krebs said point-of-sale hacks have become so prevalent in the US that they are now almost routine.

Because of the complex way in which point-of-sale services are structured, it can take a significant amount of time for financial institutions to work together to track card fraud back to an affected merchant, by which time criminals have already profited from the scheme, Krebs said.

“Organized crime gangs have… completely overrun the hospitality and restaurant point-of-sale systems here in the United States,” he wrote in a blog post. “The crooks are laughing all the way to the bank.”

Neither 24×7 nor Select Restaurants immediately responded to a request for comment.

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