Getting burned by Chili’s data breach

Chili’s customers may soon be singing a new jingle that goes something like this: “I want my data back, data back, data back!”

The Tex-Mex fast-food chain known for its baby back ribs, jalapeno poppers, and tacos became the latest company to get caught up in an unsavory data heist.

Over the weekend, the chain’s parent company Brinker International said in a statement that cyberthieves made off with customer credit card and debit card numbers, as well as names.

These were reportedly snatched from Chili’s payment systems between March and April, after malware was placed on the network, according to the company.

Who’s affected?

Brinker did not specify how many customers may have been caught up in the breach but recommended all Chili’s customers who think they may have been affected take action, including putting a fraud alert or freeze on their credit files, checking their credit reports and regularly checking financial accounts for suspicious activity.

“We are working with third-party forensic experts to conduct an extensive investigation to confirm the nature and scope of this incident,” the statement said. “We are working to provide fraud resolution and credit monitoring services for those Guests who may have been impacted.”

Every company is vulnerable

Cybercrime is a growing problem, as criminals become ever more sophisticated using social networks and interconnected computer systems to create an evolving spectrum of threats.

In recent months, cybercriminals used a security hole to access network servers of credit scoring agency Equifax, stealing vital personal information of half of U.S. consumers. And in recent years, cyberthieves broke into Yahoo networks, where they pilfered the names and email addresses for 1.5 billion customers globally.

Similarly, cybercriminals made off with the names and logins of 80 million JPMorgan Chase customers in 2014.

In fact, financial damage from cybercrime is about $600 billion worldwide, up from $500 billion in 2014, according to a 2018 report from security company McAfee in a recent report.

Fighting cybercrime

Fortunately, dozens of companies worldwide are devoted to defending data networks against cybercriminals, and they aren’t taking things lying down.

These include Palo Alto Networks, whose advanced firewalls purport to build a perimeter around an enterprise’s entire workforce wherever they may be, or Cisco’s endpoint and intrusion detection systems, as well as Symantec’s state of the art protection for consumer computer systems against malware, viruses and other security threats.

Numerous other companies are working to fend off the ever-changing universe of threats. In the meantime, consumers should do everything they can to protect their own data.

Article by Jeremy Quittner
Jeremy Quittner is the financial writer for Stash.