1(630)802-8605 Ravi.das@bn-inc.net

The prime motive of the Cyber attacker is to get a hold of your private information and data for immediate financial gain.  Now, it appears that they want to hold onto this for quite some time-and launch an Identity Theft when you least expect it, or when you are at your one of your most vulnerable points in your life (of course, the Cyber attacker won’t know that-but that’s how it seems to happen).

The Cyber-attacks which have been occurring at the retail stores, such as Home Depot, Target, Wal Mart are the prime example of this.  To hit this point home, I was a victim of credit card theft at Wal Mart just one year ago.  I always shopped at this particular store for a number of years, and had no issues what so ever.  But when day, my purchases just totaled a mere $28.89.  I went to check my credit card account online a few days later, and within minutes of my purchase, my credit card account information was hijacked and used at three different Wal Mart stores hundreds of miles away.

After I saw that, I called my credit card company, and they already had suspended my account after the first fraudulent purchase.  Fortunately, the damage was just a couple of hundred of dollars, and it could have been a lot more.  I was told that most likely, somehow, a credit card skimmer was installed at the Point of Sale terminal in order to get my credit card information.

This is the same chain of events that also occurred at Home Depot and Target.  But in these instances, the number of credit card numbers that were covertly stolen were in the range of hundreds of thousands, if not millions.  Now, Applebee’s and all of its franchises have also been hit with this same kind of Cyber-attack.  The Point of Sale malware has affected 167 restaurants in 15 states which include the following:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Wyoming

This security breach actually occurred on February 13, 2018, and Applebee’s did the responsible and correct thing by notifying customers and law enforcement agencies immediately once it was this malware was discovered.

Most Cyber security analysts agree that it is not the direct restaurant which is at risk, but rather the franchises that fall under it.  This is because they are independently owned, and there is very little that the corporate office can do to enforce high levels of security for Point of Sale Terminals.  But, there does seem to be one kind of tool that the restaurant franchises could deploy easily, and this known as the “Card Not Present”.

According to Lisa Baergen, director at NuData Security, Inc.:  “To combat online fraudulent transactions after the credit card information has been stolen, businesses offering services in the card-not-present (CNP) channel need to identify customers using multi-layered technologies that include passive biometrics . . . this technology monitors the user’s inherent behavior, making it impossible for hackers to replicate or steal.”  (SOURCE:  https://www.scmagazine.com/applebees-hit-with-pos-breach/article/749139/).

But, you the customer, don’t have to have the latest security technology in your hands in order to protect your credit card.  Here are two simple tips:

  • Only make credit card purchases where the secure chip is used;
  • If you are at a restaurant, like Applebee’s, always insist to your waiter or waitress that you want to see them swipe your credit card in your presence. There is always that chance that he or she may even be carrying a skimmer in their own pocket and stealing your credit card number just a few feet away from you.  Think about that one!!!