Security Experts:

Payment Card Breach Hits Some Applebee's Restaurants

RMH Franchise Holdings revealed on Friday that malware had been found on point-of-sale (PoS) systems at the Applebee’s restaurants it operates as a franchise.

RMH disclosed the incident on Friday afternoon, which often indicates an attempt to avoid the news cycle and fly under the radar. The company posted a link to the data breach notice on the homepage of its website, but it did not announce anything on social media.

According to the data breach notice, the incident affects more than 160 restaurants in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming. This represents nearly all the restaurants operated by RMH.

In a vast majority of cases, the malware was present on PoS systems between December 6, 2017 and January 2, 2018, but in a small number of restaurants the malware had been active since November 23 or December 5, 2017. The company said the breach does not impact payments made online or using self-pay tabletop devices.

The breach was discovered on February 13 and RMH launched an investigation in cooperation with cybersecurity experts and law enforcement.

The company said the malware was designed to collect names, credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates, and card verification codes.

RMH pointed out that its payment systems are isolated from the broader Applebee’s network, which is not affected by this incident.

“Moving forward, RMH is continuing to closely monitor its systems and review its security measures to help prevent something like this from happening again,” RMH said. “RMH is pleased to report that the incident has been contained and guests may use their cards with confidence at the RMH Applebee’s locations that were affected by this incident.”

Several major restaurant chains disclosed payment card breaches last year, including Arby’s, Chipotle, Sonic Drive-In, and Shoney’s. Amazon's Whole Foods Market also informed customers that taprooms and full table-service restaurants at nearly 100 locations were hit by a 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.