By Katherine Minkiewicz
After a data hack of personal credit card information occurring at the Chili’s restaurant chain in April, Brinker International, the group that owns Chili’s and various other family restaurant chains, says the scope of the attack is unclear and it is uncertain whether the Rohnert Park Chili’s on Redwood Drive was affected by the breach.
On May 11 Brinker learned that customers’ credit card information, such as card numbers, CVC codes and expiration dates were exposed in a large-scale data hack and acquisition of personal data.
The company says they believe malware was used to hack into customers’ data from restaurant payment systems. In addition to card information, cardholder names were also exposed, however, the group is stressing that Chili’s does not collect social security numbers or date of birth information and that this more sensitive information was not compromised.
“Currently, we believe the data incident was limited to the dates of March - April 2018; however, we continue to assess the scope of the incident,” states a Brinker International press release.
To that end, the full scope of the incident is unclear and the press release does not mention which restaurants were affected, but that a third-party investigator and forensics team are looking into the incident.
It is also still uncertain whether or not the Rohnert Park Chili’s was affected by the hack.
The Voice reached out to Brinker to get a comment regarding the Chili’s on Redwood Drive, however, they did not respond in time for publication.
Josh Joyce, a computer expert at Rohnert Park Computers, says data breaches like this happen all the time and they are more common than people think.
“Data breaches happen every day. With credit card (information) it is usually sold on the black market within 24 hours,” Joyce said. “If you do not see any change in your account for 24 or 48 hours, you are probably safe.”
Joyce also explained that most of the culprits behind data hacks are groups of virus writers working together.
“60 to 80 percent of virus writers are working under contract for organized crime… and most virus writers are under the age of 18 and they are experimenting with their skills and they’re able to sell it to organized crime,” Joyce said.
According to him, around 3,000 viruses are created a month, which can create a lot of large-scale events such as the Chili’s hack.
“A lot of large scale events are usually a group effort… Virus writers have specialties and specialists are used to compute each virus,” Joyce said.
When asked if Joyce himself has ever been the victim of a hack, he said he was affected by the 2013 Target data breach, which affected around 41 million customers.
“That was one of the worst data breaches. I had duplicate charges on my card,” Joyce said.
In response to the Chili’s incident, Brinker says they will be working with ID Experts, an identity and theft protection company, to provide customers who may have been affected free fraud help and credit tracking services.
“We are working diligently to address this issue and immediately activated our response plan upon learning of this incident,” the Brinker press release says of the issue.
Joyce said he would encourage people to try to use cash more often than credit or debit cards and to make sure a website is secure when making online purchases.