Credit and debit card payments giant Verifone [NYSE: PAY] is investigating a breach of its internal computer networks that appears to have impacted a number of companies running its point-of-sale solutions, according to sources. Verifone says the extent of the breach was limited to its corporate network and that its payment services network was not impacted.
San Jose, Calif.-based Verifone is the largest maker of credit card terminals used in the United States. It sells point-of-sale terminals and services to support the swiping and processing of credit and debit card payments at a variety of businesses, including retailers, taxis, and fuel stations.
On Jan. 23, 2017, Verifone sent an “urgent” email to all company staff and contractors, warning they had 24 hours to change all company passwords.
“We are currently investigating an IT control matter in the Verifone environment,” reads an email memo penned by Steve Horan, Verifone Inc.’s senior vice president and chief information officer. “As a precaution, we are taking immediate steps to improve our controls.”
The internal Verifone memo — a copy of which was obtained by KrebsOnSecurity and is pictured above — also informed employees they would no longer be allowed to install software of any kind on company computers and laptops.
Asked about the breach reports, a Verifone spokesman said the company saw evidence in January 2017 of an intrusion in a “limited portion” of its internal network, but that the breach never impacted its payment services network.
“In January 2017, Verifone’s information security team saw evidence of a limited cyber intrusion into our corporate network,” Verifone spokesman Andy Payment said. “Our payment services network was not impacted. We immediately began work to determine the type of information targeted and executed appropriate measures in response. We believe today that due to our immediate response, the potential for misuse of information is limited.”
Verifone’s Mr. Payment declined to answer additional questions about the breach, such as how Verifone learned about it and whether the company was initially notified by an outside party. But a source with knowledge of the matter told KrebsOnSecurity.com that the employee alert Verifone sent out on Jan, 23, 2017 was in response to a notification that Verifone received from the credit card companies Visa and Mastercard just days earlier in January.
A spokesperson for Visa declined to comment for this story. MasterCard officials did not respond to requests for comment.
According to my source, the intrusion impacted at least one corner of Verifone’s business: A customer support unit based in Clearwater, Fla. that provides comprehensive payment solutions specifically to gas and petrol stations throughout the United States — including, pay-at-the-pump credit card processing; physical cash registers inside the fuel station store; customer loyalty programs; and remote technical support.
The source said his employer shared with the card brands evidence that a Russian hacking group known for targeting payment providers and hospitality firms had compromised at least a portion of Verifone’s internal network.
The source says Visa and MasterCard were notified that the intruders appeared to have been inside of Verifone’s network since mid-2016. The source noted there is ample evidence the attackers used some of the same toolsets and infrastructure as the cybercrime gang that last year is thought to have hacked into Oracle’s MICROS division, a unit of Oracle that provides point-of-sale solutions to hundreds of thousands of retailers and hospitality firms.
Founded in Hawaii, U.S. in 1981, Verifone now operates in more than 150 countries worldwide and employ nearly 5,000 people globally.
Update, 1:17 p.m. ET: Verifone circled back post-publication with the following update to their statement: “According to the forensic information to-date, the cyber attempt was limited to controllers at approximately two dozen gas stations, and occurred over a short time frame. We believe that no other merchants were targeted and the integrity of our networks and merchants’ payment terminals remain secure and fully operational.”
Sources told KrebsOnSecurity that Verifone commissioned an investigation of the breach from Foregenix Ltd., a digital forensics firm based in the United Kingdom that lists Verifone as a “strategic partner.” Foregenix declined to comment for this story.