Fast food restaurant chain Wendy’s informed customers on Thursday that the number of locations where cybercriminals compromised point-of-sale (PoS) systems is much higher than initially estimated.
Wendy’s launched an investigation in late January after fraud patterns were discovered on cards used at some restaurants. The presence of malware was confirmed in February and, in mid-May, the company said hackers had compromised PoS systems at less than 300 of its 5,500 franchised restaurants in North America.
The investigation conducted up until May revealed that unrelated cybersecurity issues had been identified at roughly 50 other franchise restaurants. As the investigation continued, experts discovered another variant of the malware that was similar to the threat discovered initially, but which had a different execution method.
According to the company, a remote access tool (RAT) had been found on PoS systems that were initially believed to be clean. As a result, Wendy’s now says the number of affected restaurants is “considerably higher” than 300, although it has not disclosed an exact number.
Wendy’s says the malware used in the attack is “highly sophisticated in nature and extremely difficult to detect.” The company claims to have disabled the malware on all the systems where it had been discovered.
“Many franchisees and operators throughout the retail and restaurant industries contract with third-party service providers to maintain and support their POS systems. The Company believes this series of cybersecurity attacks resulted from certain service providers’ remote access credentials being compromised, allowing access to the POS system in certain franchise restaurants serviced by those providers,” Wendy’s said in a statement.
Wendy’s pointed out that the data breach does not appear to impact any of the restaurants it operates. The investigation, assisted by cybersecurity experts and law enforcement, continues.
Security blogger Brian Krebs recently learned from sources in the financial industry that CiCi’s Pizza, a fast food company with more than 500 stores in the United States, has also been caught in a credit card breach. A botnet targeting PoS systems is believed to have stolen at least 1.2 million payment cards from CiCi’s Pizza and other restaurants.
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