Point-of-Sale Data Breach Goes to the Cloud

Point-of-sale (POS) malware used to be limited to Verifone-style data terminals that were hardwired to a register at a retail establishment. That aspect of a point-of-sale data breach has changed drastically of late, with POS software moving to the cloud.

Point-of-Sale Data Breach Targets Mobile Database

Lightspeed, a POS provider that serves over 38,000 business clients, announced last Thursday that it had suffered a breach, CSO Online reported.

The breach affected a system that allows clients to connect via mobile devices. In a statement, the company said the attack targeted a database that stored specific client information regarding products, sales and encrypted passwords that can be used to access the system.

No Evidence of Stolen Data

In a worrisome development, the company said attackers also accessed electronic signatures that had gone through the POS software. However, the statement claimed there was no evidence that the data was stolen or otherwise used for criminal purposes.

“It’s worth noting that Lightspeed does not store credit card information, and therefore no cardholder data was compromised in this incident,” a company spokesman told CSO Online in an email.

If the customer data is safe, it may have been due to the company’s practice of encrypting its passwords at rest. In its statement, Lightspeed said it was using an “advanced encryption technology” that had been upgraded in January 2015.

Remediation Steps

The provider is taking remediation steps right now. It is limiting personal access to the company’s production infrastructure as well as its sensitive data. It’s always a good idea to keep as many hands off the production machines as possible.

In addition, the company is upgrading its security to detect more advanced attacks. It did not disclose which advanced attacks it thought were worth detecting.

Security frontiers and perimeters have changed over time. Even though user and customer data were protected to some degree, a breach was still possible. Perhaps Lightspeed’s threat model was incomplete or deficient in some area. The company obviously took steps toward hardening its system, since it encoded the credentials at rest.

Still, given the accessibility of customers’ e-signatures, there was obviously a vulnerability that was not detected. The whole affair illustrates the importance of re-evaluating the threat model continually, even when it seems a decent solution is already in place.

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Larry Loeb

Principal, PBC Enterprises

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other...