Data Breaches

Jun 16

Banks: Credit Card Breach at CiCi’s Pizza

CiCi’s Pizza, an American fast food business based in Coppell, Texas with more than 500 stores in 35 states, appears to be the latest restaurant chain to struggle with a credit card breach. The data available so far suggests that hackers obtained access to card data at affected restaurants by posing as technical support specialists for the company’s point-of-sale provider, and that multiple other retailers have been targeted by this same cybercrime gang.

cicisOver the past two months, KrebsOnSecurity has received inquiries from fraud fighters at more than a half-dozen financial institutions in the United States — all asking if I had any information about a possible credit card breach at CiCi’s. Every one of these banking industry sources said the same thing: They’d detected a pattern of fraud on cards that all had all been used in the last few months at various CiCi’s Pizza locations.

Earlier today, I finally got around to reaching out to the CiCi’s headquarters in Texas and was referred to a third-party restaurant management firm called Champion Management. When I called Champion and told them why I was inquiring, they said “the issue” was being handled by an outside public relations firm called SPM Communications.

I never did get a substantive response from SPM, which according to their email and phone messages closes at 1 pm on Fridays during the summer. So I decided to follow up on a tip I’d received from a fraud fighter at one affected bank who said they’d heard from the U.S. Secret Service that the fraud was related to a breach or security weakness at Datapoint (CiCi’s point-of-sale provider).

Incredibly, I went to look up the contact information for datapoint[dot]com, and found that Google was trying to prevent me from visiting this site: According to the search engine giant, Datapoint’s Web site appears to be compromised! It appears Google has listed the site as hacked and that it was once abused by spammers to promote knockoff male enhancement pills.  Continue reading →

Jun 16

Dropbox Smeared in Week of Megabreaches

Last week, LifeLock and several other identity theft protection firms erroneously alerted their customers to a breach at cloud storage giant — an incident that reportedly exposed some 73 million usernames and passwords. The only problem with that notification was that Dropbox didn’t have a breach; the data appears instead to have come from another breach revealed this week at social network Tumblr.

Today’s post examines some of the missteps that preceded this embarrassing and potentially brand-damaging “oops.” We’ll also explore the limits of automated threat intelligence gathering in an era of megabreaches like the ones revealed over the past week that exposed more than a half billion usernames and passwords stolen from Tumblr, MySpace and LinkedIn.

The credentials leaked in connection with breaches at those social networking sites were stolen years ago, but the full extent of the intrusions only became clear recently — when several huge archives of email addresses and hashed passwords from each service were posted to the dark web and to file-sharing sites.

Last week, a reader referred me to a post by a guy named Andrew on the help forum. Andrew said he’d just received alerts blasted out by two different credit monitoring firms that his dropbox credentials had been compromised and were found online (see screenshot below).

A user on the dropbox forum complains of receiving alerts from separate companies warning of a huge password breach at

A user on the dropbox forum complains of receiving alerts from separate companies warning of a huge password breach at

Here’s what LifeLock sent out on May 23, 2016 to many customers who pay for the company’s credential recovery services:

Alert Date: 05-23-2016
Alert Type: Monitoring
Alert Category: Internet-Black Market Website
**Member has received a File Sharing Network alert Email: *****
Password: ****************************************
Where your data was found: social media
Type of Compromise: breach
Breached Sector: business
Breached Site:
Breached Record Count: 73361477
Password Status: hashed
Severity: red|email,password

LifeLock said it got the alert data via an information sharing agreement with a third party threat intelligence service, but it declined to name the service that sent the false positive alert.

“We can confirm that we recently notified a small segment of LifeLock members that a version of their credentials were detected on the internet,” LifeLock said in a written statement provided to KrebsOnSecurity. “When we are notified about this type of information from a partner, it is usually a “list” that is being given away, traded or sold on the dark web. The safety and security of our members’ data is our highest priority. We are continuing to monitor for any activity within our source network. At this time, we recommend that these LifeLock members change their Dropbox password(s) as a precautionary measure.”

Dropbox says it didn’t have a breach, and if it had the company would be seeing huge amounts of account checking activity and other oddities going on right now. And that’s just not happening, they say.

“We have learned that LifeLock and are reporting that Dropbox account details of some of their customers are potentially compromised,” said Patrick Heim, head of trust and security at Dropbox. “An initial investigation into these reports has found no evidence of Dropbox accounts being impacted. We’re continuing to look into this issue and will update our users if we find evidence that Dropbox accounts have been impacted.” Continue reading →

May 16

Noodles & Company Probes Breach Claims

Noodles & Company [NASDAQ: NDLS]a fast-casual restaurant chain with more than 500 stores in 35 U.S. states, says it has hired outside investigators to probe reports of a credit card breach at some locations.

noodlesOver the past weekend, KrebsOnSecurity began hearing from sources at multiple financial institutions who said they’d detected a pattern of fraudulent charges on customer cards that were used at various Noodles & Company locations between January 2016 and the present.

Asked to comment on the reports, Broomfield, Colo.-based Noodles & Company issued the following statement:

“We are currently investigating some unusual activity reported to us Tuesday, May 16, 2016 by our credit card processor. Once we received this report, we alerted law enforcement officials and we are working with third party forensic experts. Our investigation is ongoing and we will continue to share information.”

The investigation comes amid a fairly constant drip of card breaches at main street retailers, restaurant chains and hospitality firms. Wendy’s reported last week that a credit card breach that began in the autumn of 2015 impacted 300 of its 5,500 locations. Continue reading →

May 16

As Scope of 2012 Breach Expands, LinkedIn to Again Reset Passwords for Some Users

A 2012 data breach that was thought to have exposed 6.5 million hashed passwords for LinkedIn users instead likely impacted more than 117 million accounts, the company now says. In response, the business networking giant said today that it would once again force a password reset for individual users thought to be impacted in the expanded breach.

leakedinThe 2012 breach was first exposed when a hacker posted a list of some 6.5 million unique passwords to a popular forum where members volunteer or can be hired to hack complex passwords. Forum members managed to crack some the passwords, and eventually noticed that an inordinate number of the passwords they were able to crack contained some variation of “linkedin” in them.

LinkedIn responded by forcing a password reset on all 6.5 million of the impacted accounts, but it stopped there. But earlier today, reports surfaced about a sales thread on an online cybercrime bazaar in which the seller offered to sell 117 million records stolen in the 2012 breach. In addition, the paid hacked data search engine LeakedSource claims to have a searchable copy of the 117 million record database (this service said it found my LinkedIn email address in the data cache, but it asked me to pay $4.00 for a one-day trial membership in order to view the data; I declined).

Inexplicably, LinkedIn’s response to the most recent breach is to repeat the mistake it made with original breach, by once again forcing a password reset for only a subset of its users.

“Yesterday, we became aware of an additional set of data that had just been released that claims to be email and hashed password combinations of more than 100 million LinkedIn members from that same theft in 2012,” wrote Cory Scott, in a post on the company’s blog. “We are taking immediate steps to invalidate the passwords of the accounts impacted, and we will contact those members to reset their passwords. We have no indication that this is as a result of a new security breach.”

LinkedIn spokesman Hani Durzy said the company has obtained a copy of the 117 million record database, and that LinkedIn believes it to be real.

“We believe it is from the 2012 breach,” Durzy said in an email to KrebsOnSecurity. “How many of those 117m are active and current is still being investigated.”

Regarding the decision not to force a password reset across the board back in 2012, Durzy said “We did at the time what we thought was in the best interest of our member base as a whole, trying to balance security for those with passwords that were compromised while not disrupting the LinkedIn experience for those who didn’t appear impacted.”

The 117 million figure makes sense: LinkedIn says it has more than 400 million users, but reports suggest only about 25 percent of those accounts are used monthly. Continue reading →

May 16

Wendy’s: Breach Affected 5% of Restaurants

Wendy’s said today that an investigation into a credit card breach at the nationwide fast-food chain uncovered malicious software on point-of-sale systems at fewer than 300 of the company’s 5,500 franchised stores. The company says the investigation into the breach is continuing, but that the malware has been removed from all affected locations.

wendysky“Based on the preliminary findings of the investigation and other information, the Company believes that malware, installed through the use of compromised third-party vendor credentials, affected one particular point of sale system at fewer than 300 of approximately 5,500 franchised North America Wendy’s restaurants, starting in the fall of 2015,” Wendy’s disclosed in their first quarter financial statement today. The statement continues:

“These findings also indicate that the Aloha point of sale system has not been impacted by this activity. The Aloha system is already installed at all Company-operated restaurants and in a majority of franchise-operated restaurants, with implementation throughout the North America system targeted by year-end 2016. The Company expects that it will receive a final report from its investigator in the near future.”

“The Company has worked aggressively with its investigator to identify the source of the malware and quantify the extent of the malicious cyber-attacks, and has disabled and eradicated the malware in affected restaurants. The Company continues to work through a defined process with the payment card brands, its investigator and federal law enforcement authorities to complete the investigation.”

“Based upon the investigation to date, approximately 50 franchise restaurants are suspected of experiencing, or have been found to have, unrelated cybersecurity issues. The Company and affected franchisees are working to verify and resolve these issues.”

The findings come as many banks and credit unions feeling card fraud pain because of the breach have been grumbling about the extent and duration of the breach. Sources at multiple financial institutions say their data indicates that some of the breached Wendy’s locations were still leaking customer card data as late as the end of March 2016 and into early April. The breach was first disclosed on this blog on January 27, 2016.

“Our ongoing investigation into unusual payment card activity at some Wendy’s restaurants is being led by a third party PFI and is proceeding as expeditiously as possible,” Wendy’s spokesman Bob Bertini said in response to questions about the duration of the breach at some stores. “As you are aware, our investigator is required to follow certain protocols in this type of comprehensive investigation and this takes time. Adding to the complexity is the fact that most Wendy’s restaurants are owned and operated by independent franchisees.”

May 16

Crooks Grab W-2s from Credit Bureau Equifax

Identity thieves stole tax and salary data from big-three credit bureau Equifax Inc., according to a letter that grocery giant Kroger sent to all current and some former employees on Thursday. The nation’s largest grocery chain by revenue appears to be one of several Equifax customers that were similarly victimized this year.

Atlanta-based Equifax’s W-2Express site makes electronic W-2 forms accessible for download for many companies, including Kroger — which employs more than 431,000 people. According to a letter Kroger sent to employees dated May 5, thieves were able to access W-2 data merely by entering at Equifax’s portal the employee’s default PIN code, which was nothing more than the last four digits of the employee’s Social Security number and their four-digit birth year.

“It appears that unknown individuals have accessed [Equifax’s] W2Express website using default log-in information based on Social Security numbers (SSN) and dates of birth, which we believe were obtained from some other source, such as a prior data breach at other institutions,” Kroger wrote in a FAQ about the incident that was included with the letter sent to employees. “We have no indication that Kroger’s systems have been compromised.”

The FAQ continued:

“At this time, we have no indication that associates who had created a new password (did not use the default PIN) were affected, and we are still identifying which associates still using the default PIN may have been affected. We believe individuals gained access to some Kroger associates’ electronic W-2 forms and may have used the information to file tax returns in their names in an effort to claim a fraudulent refund.”

“Kroger is working with Equifax and the authorities to determine who is affected and restore secure access to W-2Express. At this time, we believe you are among our current and former Kroger associates using the default PIN in the W-2Express system. This does not necessarily mean your W-2 was accessed as part of this security incident. We are still working to identify which individuals’ information was accessed.”

Kroger said it doesn’t yet know how many of its employees may have been affected.

The incident comes amid news first reported on this blog earlier this week that tax fraudsters similarly targeted employees of companies that used payroll giant ADP to give employees access to their W-2 data. ADP acknowledged that the incident affected employees at U.S. Bank and at least 11 other companies.

Equifax did not respond to requests for comment about how many other customer companies may have been affected by the same default (in)security. But Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey said other companies that relied on Equifax for W-2 data also relied on the last four of the SSN and 4-digit birth year as authenticators.

“As far as I know, it’s the standard Equifax setup,” Dailey said.

Last month, Stanford University alerted 600 current and former employees that their data was similarly accessed by ID thieves via Equifax’s W-2Express portal. Northwestern University also just alerted 150 employees that their salary and tax data was stolen via Equifax this year.

In a statement released to KrebsOnSecurity, Equifax spokeswoman Dianne Bernez confirmed that the company had been made aware of suspected fraudulent access to payroll information through its W-2Express service by Kroger. Continue reading →

May 16

Fraudsters Steal Tax, Salary Data From ADP

Identity thieves stole tax and salary data from payroll giant ADP by registering accounts in the names of employees at more than a dozen customer firms, KrebsOnSecurity has learned. ADP says the incidents occurred because the victim companies all mistakenly published sensitive ADP account information online that made those firms easy targets for tax fraudsters.

adpPatterson, N.J.-based ADP provides payroll, tax and benefits administration for more than 640,000 companies. Last week, U.S. Bancorp (U.S. Bank) — the nation’s fifth-largest commercial bank — warned some of its employees that their W-2 data had been stolen thanks to a weakness in ADP’s customer portal.

ID thieves are interested in W-2 data because it contains much of the information needed to fraudulently request a large tax refund from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in someone else’s name. A reader who works at U.S. Bank shared a letter received from Jennie Carlson, the financial institution’s executive vice president of human resources.

“Since April 19, 2016, we have been actively investigating a security incident with our W-2 provider, ADP,” Carlson wrote. “During the course of that investigation we have learned that an external W-2 portal, maintained by ADP, may have been utilized by unauthorized individuals to access your W-2, which they may have used to file a fraudulent income tax return under your name.”

The letter continued:

“The incident originated because ADP offered an external online portal that has been exploited. For individuals who had never used the external portal, a registration had never been established. Criminals were able to take advantage of that situation to use confidential personal information from other sources to establish a registration in your name at ADP. Once the fraudulent registration was established, they were able to view or download your W-2.”

U.S. Bank spokesman Dana Ripley said the letter was sent to a “small population” of the bank’s more than 64,000 employees. Asked to comment on the letter from U.S. Bank, ADP confirmed that the fraud visited upon U.S. Bank also hit “a very small subset” of the ADP’s total customers this year.

ADP emphasized that the fraudsters needed to have the victim’s personal data — including name, date of birth and Social Security number — to successfully create an account in someone’s name. ADP also stressed that this personal data did not come from its systems, and that thieves appeared to already possess that data when they created the unauthorized accounts at ADP’s portal.

ADP Chief Security Officer Roland Cloutier said customers can choose to create an account at the ADP portal for each employee, or they can defer that process to a later date (but employers do have to chose one or the other, Cloutier said).

According to ADP, new users need to be in possession of two other things (in addition to the victim’s personal data) at a minimum in order to create an account: A custom, company-specific link provided by ADP, and a static code assigned to the customer by ADP.

The problem, Cloutier said, seems to stem from ADP customers that both deferred that signup process for some or all of their employees and at the same time inadvertently published online the link and the company code. As a result, for users who never registered, criminals were able to register as them with fairly basic personal info, and access W-2 data on those individuals. Continue reading →

Apr 16

After Tax Fraud Spike, Payroll Firm Greenshades Ditches SSN/DOB Logins

Online payroll management firm is an object lesson in how not to do authentication. Until very recently, the company allowed corporate payroll administrators to access employee payroll data online using nothing more than an employee’s date of birth and Social Security number. That is, until criminals discovered this and began mass-filing fraudulent tax refund requests with the IRS on large swaths of employees at firms that use the company’s services.

A notice on the Greenshades Web site.

A notice on the Greenshades Web site.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Greenshades posted an alert on its homepage stating that the company “has seen an abnormal increase in identity thieves using personal information to fraudulently log into the company’s system to access personal tax information.”

Many online services blame these sorts of attacks on customers re-using the same password at multiple sites, but Greenshades set customers up for this by allowing access to payroll records just by supplying the employee’s Social Security number and date of birth.

As this author has sought repeatedly to demonstrate, SSN/DOB information is extremely easy and cheap to obtain via multiple criminal-run Web sites: SSN/DOB data is reliably available for purchase from underground online crime shops for less than $4 per person (payable in Bitcoin only).

The spike in tax fraud against employees of companies that use Greenshades came to light earlier this month in various media stories. A number of employees at public high schools in Chicago discovered that crooks beat them to the punch on filing tax returns. An investigation into that incident suggested security weaknesses at Greenshades were to blame.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote last month about tax fraud perpetrated against local county workers, fraud that also was linked to compromised Greenshades accounts. In Nebraska, the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District and Fremont Health hospital had a number of employees with tax fraud linked to compromised Greenshades accounts, according to a report in the Fremont Tribune.

Greenshades co-CEO Matthew Kane said the company allowed payroll administrators to access W2 information with nothing more than SSN and DOB for one simple reason: Many customers demanded it.

“There’s a valid reason to have what I call weak login credentials,” Kane told KrebsOnSecurity. “Some of our clients clamor for weaker login credentials, such as companies that have a large staff of temporary workers.”

Kane said customers have a “wide range of options” to select from in choosing how they will authenticate to, but that the most secure option currently offered is a simple username and password.

When asked whether the company offers any sort of two-step or two-factor authentication, Kane argued that corporate email addresses assigned to company employees serve as a kind of second factor. Continue reading →

Apr 16

Sources: Trump Hotels Breached Again

Banking industry sources tell KrebsOnSecurity that the Trump Hotel Collection — a string of luxury properties tied to business magnate and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — appears to be dealing with another breach of its credit card systems. If confirmed, this would be the second such breach at the Trump properties in less than a year.

Trump International Hotel in New York.

Trump International Hotel in New York.

A representative from Trump Hotels said the organization was investigating the claims.

“We are in the midst of a thorough investigation on this matter,” the company said in a written statement. “We are committed to safeguarding all guests’ personal information and will continue to do so vigilantly.”

KrebsOnSecurity reached out to the Trump organization after hearing from three sources in the financial sector who said they’ve noticed a pattern of fraud on customer credit cards which suggests that hackers have breached credit card systems at some — if not all — of the Trump Hotel Collection properties.

On July 1, 2015, this publication was the first to report that banks suspected a breach at Trump properties. After that story ran, Trump Hotel Collection acknowledged being alerted about suspicious activity tied to accounts that were recently used at its hotels. But it didn’t officially confirm that its payment systems had been infected with card-stealing malware until October 2015.

The Trump Hotel Collection includes more than a dozen properties globally. Sources said they noticed a pattern of fraud on cards that were all used at multiple Trump hotel locations in the past two to three months, including at Trump International Hotel New York, Trump Hotel Waikiki in Honolulu, and the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Toronto. Continue reading →

Mar 16

Crooks Steal, Sell Verizon Enterprise Customer Data

Verizon Enterprise Solutions, a B2B unit of the telecommunications giant that gets called in to help Fortune 500’s respond to some of the world’s largest data breaches, is reeling from its own data breach involving the theft and resale of customer data, KrebsOnSecurity has learned.

vzbzEarlier this week, a prominent member of a closely guarded underground cybercrime forum posted a new thread advertising the sale of a database containing the contact information on some 1.5 million customers of Verizon Enterprise.

The seller priced the entire package at $100,000, but also offered to sell it off in chunks of 100,000 records for $10,000 apiece. Buyers also were offered the option to purchase information about security vulnerabilities in Verizon’s Web site.

Contacted about the posting, Verizon Enterprise told KrebsOnSecurity that the company recently identified a security  flaw in its site that permitted hackers to steal customer contact information, and that it is in the process of alerting affected customers.

“Verizon recently discovered and remediated a security vulnerability on our enterprise client portal,” the company said in an emailed statement. “Our investigation to date found an attacker obtained basic contact information on a number of our enterprise customers. No customer proprietary network information (CPNI) or other data was accessed or accessible.”

The seller of the Verizon Enterprise data offers the database in multiple formats, including the database platform MongoDB, so it seems likely that the attackers somehow forced the MongoDB system to dump its contents. Verizon has not yet responded to questions about how the breach occurred, or exactly how many customers were being notified. Continue reading →