Kimpton Hotels on Wednesday formally acknowledged that malware found on payment terminals in many of its hotels and restaurants may have compromised credit/debit cards of guests who patronized the properties in the first half of this year. The disclosure comes more than a month after KrebsOnSecurity first contacted to the company about a possible credit card breach across most of its locations.
According to a notice added to the Kimpton Web site, the incident involved cards used at certain restaurants and hotel front desks from February 16, 2016 to July 7, 2016. Kimpton has posted a list of more than 60 restaurants and hotels where the company found and removed card-stealing malicious software from payment terminals.
Kimpton joins a long list of hotel brands that have acknowledged card breaches over the last year after prompting by KrebsOnSecurity, including Trump Hotels (twice), Hilton, Mandarin Oriental, and White Lodging (twice). Breaches also have hit hospitality chains Starwood Hotels and Hyatt.
In many of those incidents, thieves had planted malicious software on the point-of-sale devices at restaurants and bars inside of the hotel chains. However, the source and extent of the apparent breach at Kimpton properties is still unknown.
Point-of-sale based malware has driven most of the credit card breaches over the past two years, including intrusions at Target and Home Depot, as well as breaches at a slew of point-of-sale vendors. The malware usually is installed via hacked remote administration tools. Once the attackers have their malware loaded onto the point-of-sale devices, they can remotely capture data from each card swiped at that cash register.
Thieves can then sell the data to crooks who specialize in encoding the stolen data onto any card with a magnetic stripe, and using the cards to buy gift cards and high-priced goods from big-box stores like Target and Best Buy.
Readers should remember that they’re not liable for fraudulent charges on their credit or debit cards, but they still have to report the unauthorized transactions. There is no substitute for keeping a close eye on your card statements. Also, consider using credit cards instead of debit cards; having your checking account emptied of cash while your bank sorts out the situation can be a hassle and lead to secondary problems (bounced checks, for instance).