Security Experts:

Wendy's Breach Affects 300 Restaurants

The investigation conducted by fast food restaurant chain Wendy’s following reports of suspicious credit card activity is nearly completed, and the company has confirmed that some of its point-of-sale (PoS) systems have been breached.

Wendy’s launched an investigation in late January after the payment industry discovered fraud patterns on cards used at some of its restaurants.

In its preliminary 2015 annual report published in February, the restaurant chain said the investigation was still ongoing, but confirmed that cybersecurity experts had found malware on some systems.

In a report published on Wednesday for the first quarter of 2016, the company said the investigation is almost complete and that malware had been found at less than 300 of its 5,500 franchised restaurants in North America. Experts determined that attackers likely started installing the malware in the fall of 2015 after compromising a third-party vendor’s credentials.

Wendy’s said it worked with investigators to identify the source of the malware and remove the threat from its systems.

The company pointed out that the malware only affected one particular type of PoS system, and Aloha PoS systems are not impacted.

“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,” Wendy’s said in its report.

Landry’s also confirmed earlier this year that the PoS systems at some of its restaurants were infected with malware. The company said attackers had access to its systems between May 2014 and December 2015.

Attacks targeting PoS systems can be highly profitable for cybercriminals, which is why these types of campaigns are increasingly sophisticated. FireEye recently analyzed two such operations - one where malicious actors stole millions of payment card records, and one where attackers leveraged a Windows zero-day vulnerability.

Related Reading: American Express Warns Cardholders of Data Breach

Related Reading: Trump Hotels Investigating Another Possible Data 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.