Chipotle Data Breach Investigation Shows Fraudsters Aimed at Endpoints

Just over a month after first disclosing a data breach, Chipotle Mexican Grill released the results of an internal investigation, which revealed malicious actors stole data from customers across the majority of its 2,250 restaurants in 47 states.

A Major Data Breach, With a Side of Guacamole

Cybercriminals targeted consumers over a three-week period, Reuters reported, using malware at its point-of-sale (POS) systems. The data breach allowed attackers to buy items online, clone credit cards or steal money from accounts linked to debit cards. Chipotle said the malware has since been removed.

Dark Reading explained cybercriminals looked for track data, such as a credit card expiration number, the victim’s name or the card’s verification code to steal information. The malware honed in on the magnetic strip of the card as it went through the POS system.

While the extent of the Chipotle attack is unfortunate, it serves as a good reminder that endpoint security — regardless of the type of endpoint — is an important part of any defense-in-depth strategy. While we typically think of cybercriminals focusing on government secrets or highly classified data, even everyday consumer financial information is a valuable target.

Endpoint Calamity?

POS attacks are nothing new, of course, and eWeek published an analysis of the Chipotle incident that concluded more retailers will likely experience similar problems if endpoints aren’t patched on a regular basis. Zero-day attacks on POS systems may be difficult to mitigate, but regular monitoring can ensure administrative credentials aren’t compromised or that malware is contained before it does much damage.

The fact that card-scraping malware can be readily obtained by the fraudster community also increases the likelihood that Chipotle will not be the last to suffer a POS-related data breach, Bank Info Security explained. Besides restaurants, hotels can be a popular target, as well as smaller retailers that don’t have dedicated IT security resources.

Chipotle published a security advisory, which helps consumers figure out if the data breach affected a location near them. It also provided credit-monitoring services to those potentially impacted. Beyond companies patching and upgrading endpoints like POS systems, having consumers keep a close eye on all their card transactions may be the only way to ensure they don’t become victims of fraud or theft.

Shane Schick tells stories that help people create value with information technology. He is an editor-at-large...