Security Experts:

Kimpton Hotels Investigating Possible Card Breach

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has launched an investigation after learning that unauthorized charges have been identified on payment cards used at its properties.

Kimpton is a San Francisco-based company that operates more than 60 boutique hotels and over 70 restaurants, bars and lounges in 30 cities across the United States.

Security blogger Brian Krebs learned earlier this month from sources in the financial industry that cards used at nearly two dozen Kimpton hotels have been involved in fraudulent transactions. The company published a statement on its website on Tuesday to inform customers that it has launched an investigation and hired a security firm to provide support.

Until its investigation is completed, Kimpton has advised customers to closely monitor their payment card statements and immediately notify their bank in case of unauthorized charges.

“The company’s statement on the potential compromise echoes the pronouncements of so many of its brethren that have suffered similar breaches--we take payment card data protection ‘very seriously.’ Unfortunately, it would appear there is nothing five-star about the way most hotels approach data security,” Adam Levin, chairman and founder of IDT911, told SecurityWeek.

“Deploying end-to-end encryption, adding layered security, aggressively and thoroughly training employees and constantly monitoring and testing payment systems will help keep organizations, especially those in the hospitality industry, one step ahead of cybercriminals,” Levin added. “Affected customers should closely monitor their accounts for any suspicious activity and sign up for transactional alerts from their bank, credit union, or credit card company. They should also change their passwords, especially if they have signed up for a hotel loyalty membership.”

Many hotels have suffered data breaches over the past months. The list includes Hyatt HotelsMandarin Oriental Hotel Group, White Lodging Services, Trump Hotel Collection, Hilton and Starwood Hotels. The most recent victims are Omni Hotels and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. Tens and even hundreds of locations were impacted in some cases.

In most cases, cybercriminals steal credit and debit card data by planting malware on the point-of-sale (PoS) systems of the targeted organization. Attackers have a wide range of PoS malware families to choose from for these types of operations, including NitlovePoS, PoSeidon, MWZLesson, MalumPOS, Cherry Picker, AbaddonPOS, TreasureHunt, Multigrain, and many more.

Related Reading: Over 1,000 Wendy's Restaurants Hit by PoS Malware

Related Reading: Noodles & Company Confirms Payment Card Breach

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.