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Security & privacy

Popular fast food restaurants targeted in new data breach

Try as we might, it can seem impossible to avoid data leaks or security breaches on the modern web. Every day, news arrives about critical failures in a system’s defenses, careless decision making by web admins, or caches of stolen data showing up on the dark web. Regardless of the cause, one thing is for certain: Companies and organizations need to step up their defenses and treat data security like the serious issue it is.

If you thought restaurants and eateries were free from the scourge of data breaches — think again! A new announcement from a popular chain of restaurants revealed hackers stealthily targeted its point of sale system (POS) — putting customer credit card numbers and financial data in serious danger.

If you found yourself visiting these restaurants, your information might be at risk. We have all the details here, along with what you should do if your data is impacted by this hacking attack.

What restaurants were hit in this data breach?

If you live in the southeast or midwest U.S., you’re probably familiar with Checkers (or Rally’s as it’s called in some states.) These drive-in style restaurants are popular for their fries and burgers — with millions of visitors in the past few years.

What these customers might not have expected, however, was that hackers were penetrating Checkers’ point of sale system right under their noses. Point of sale refers to the way the company’s computers process payments, so data that passes through this system includes information like credit card numbers, expiration dates, names, and addresses.

If this data were to fall into the hands of a crook, they could easily make unauthorized charges — potentially without being flagged for it.

According to a press release from the company, not every visitor was affected by the breach. After identifying the threat, the company put together a complete list of stores targeted by hackers.

As of now, only certain locations have been breached, so if you didn’t visit any of these locations, you’re probably safe from harm. However, you should still be cautious and keep an eye on your bank statements just in case. The company could add more impacted locations to the list later.

What can I do to protect myself if I was affected by the breach?

According to the statement from Checkers, affected customers should check with their respective banks and financial institutions to make sure no unauthorized activity took place.

Make sure to look carefully at your bank and credit card statements for the past several months and report any suspicious charges to your card issuers. Usually, these companies will take care of any unauthorized charges if reported in a timely manner, so don’t hesitate if you find any.

If you have further questions for Checkers about the breach, the company is taking calls at a toll-free number. You can reach them at 1-844-386-9554.

If you’re worried about running into a data breach like this one in the future, there is a solution that can give you more peace of mind — mobile payment systems like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Due to the fact that both methods use encrypted, one-time payment codes for transactions, your card number never reaches the POS system. The Checkers hack only worked because of how it targeted data from card swipes, so if no cards are involved, there’s nothing to steal.

That is unless some bold hacker decides to hit Samsung or Apple. Chances are, however, their luck won’t be so good against them.

As more consumers and banks get on board with mobile payments, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the majority of people do transactions from their phones instead of their wallets in the not-so-distant future. If the threats are evolving, our defenses must as well.

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