Security Experts:

TripAdvisor's Viator Suffers Payment Card Data Breach, 1.4 Million Affected

Viator, the tour-booking company acquired this summer by TripAdvisor for $200 million, is notifying roughly 1.4 million customers that their payment card data and personal details might have been compromised following a data breach.

According to a notice posted on Viator's website last week, the payment card information of users who made bookings through the company's website and mobile apps are potentially affected. The organization said that it learned of the breach on Sept. 2, when its payment card services provider notified the company of unauthorized charges on customers' credit cards.

Of the 1.4 million impacted customers, 880,000 may have had their names, billing addresses, email addresses, encrypted credit or debit card numbers, and card expiration dates compromised. It's also possible that the attackers gained access to their email addresses, encrypted passwords and the online monikers they used when signing up for a Viator account.

"We have no reason to believe at this time that the three or four digit code printed at the back or front of customers' cards were compromised. Additionally, debit PIN numbers are not collected by Viator and could therefore not be compromised," the company said in a statement.

Approximately 560,000 of the company's customers are being informed that their account information (nicknames, email addresses and encrypted passwords) may have been compromised.

It's uncertain what type of encryption has been used by Viator, but people who have set the same password on multiple websites are advised to change them as soon as possible to prevent unfortunate incidents. Victims are also recommended to monitor their payment card activity and report any fraudulent charges immediately to ensure they will not be liable. The company is providing free credit monitoring and other identity protection services to impacted customers in the United States.

The incident is being investigated by law enforcement and a cyber forensics firm. Viator is working on determining the cause of the breach and securing its systems.

Nasdaq reported on Tuesday that TripAdvisor's shares dropped by 4% to $94.29 after the news broke.

"TripAdvisor is the most recent victim in a string of high profile breaches that include Home Depot, Target, Nieman Marcus and many others. Every company is at risk in today's connected world -- cyber criminals are using APTs and social engineering to gain access to company networks; from there, they can siphon off huge amounts of data without being detected," Eric Chiu, president and co-founder of cloud control company HyTrust, told SecurityWeek.

"Similar to other breaches, TripAdvisor's subsidiary, Viator, never saw the attack and only learned about it after fraudulent charges were reported. Organizations need to put security as a top priority and adopt an 'inside-out' model of security and assume that the bad guy is already on the network. This one simple assumption would dramatically change how organizations look at securing critical data and systems in their environment," Chiu added.

Earlier this month, Home Depot revealed that it had suffered a data breach affecting the payment cards of approximately 56 million customers.

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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.