Last night, Hilton Worldwide issued a statement confirming that malware had found its way onto point-of-sale systems and stole payment card information.
That stolen information includes cardholder names, payment card numbers, security codes and expiry dates. However, addresses and PINs have not been exposed. Hilton isn’t currently sharing any information about how many or which hotel locations may have been affected by the breach, but is telling customers to review their payment card statements – particularly if they used their cards at a Hilton Worldwide hotel between November 8 – December 5 2015 or April 21 – July 27 2015.
Mark Bower, Global Director of Product Management, Enterprise Data Security for HPE Security, commented:
“Once again with last night’s news of a payment card data breach at Hilton Hotels, we see that hospitality service providers face extraordinary challenges with customer data security at point of sale (POS).
Card-on-file transactions are common, meaning card data is often stored longer than typical, to maintain customer bookings and for resort service charges after check-in. Online booking systems often channel card data from various sources and third parties over the internet, creating additional possible points of compromise. Partner booking systems accessing the hotel platforms also present additional risks and malware paths for entry to data processing systems to steal sensitive information.
However it’s important to note, especially going into the busy holiday season, that hospitality organisations, as well as retailers and any businesses using POS systems, can avoid the impact of these types of advanced attacks.
Proven methods are available to neutralise this data from breaches either at the card reader, at the POS, in person, or via web booking platforms. Leading travel-related organizations, airlines, and travel booking aggregators have adopted these data-centric security techniques with huge positive benefits: reduced exposure of live data from the reach of advanced malware during an attack, and reduced impact of increasingly aggressive PCI DSS 3.1 compliance enforcement laws, laws aimed at making data security a ‘business as usual’ matter for any organisation handling card payment data.
Point of sale (POS) systems – what consumers often call the checkout system – are often the weak link in the chain and the choice of malware. They should be isolated from other networks, but often are connected. A checkout terminal in constant use is usually less frequently patched and updated, and is thus vulnerable to all manner of malware compromising the system to gain access to cardholder data.
Risks of theft from point of sale (POS) malware is totally avoidable. The good news is that savvy merchants are already tackling this risk and giving the malware nothing to steal through solutions that also have a dramatic cost reducing benefit to PCI compliance. Encrypting the data in the card reading terminal ahead of the POS eliminates the exposure of live information in vulnerable POS systems. If it’s GammaPOS, Abaddon, Dexter or other variations of malware designed to steal clear data in memory from POS applications, resulting in the loss of magstripe data, EMV card data or other sensitive data exposed at the point of sale, the attackers get only useless encrypted data. No live data means no gold to steal. Attackers don’t like stealing straw.”