P.F. Chang’s continues to use manual credit card imprinting while it investigates the security breach that the national restaurant chain suffered in early June. The serving staff is most likely groaning, but hopefully this is a limited problem, with the anticipated rollout of new EMV cards and machines.
The extent and source of the breach has not been determined and so every P.F. Chang’s China Bistro branded establishments in the continental United States must use the manual credit card imprinting machine. P.F. Chang has also connected dial-up card readers that are plugged in to telephone lines, which are used to process the imprinted slips. The P.F. Chang’s statement that talked about the manual machines also stated that customers should monitor credit card and bank statements to make sure that they weren’t affected.
The initial breach was reported on June 13, but the actual incident occurred a few days before that. P.F. Chang’s may be the latest big name brand to be hit by a security breach, but the restaurant chain is only a small piece in a large, ugly puzzle. Target’s security breach a few months ago affected 110 million people. This breach is not considered as large, although the restaurant chain has 211 P.F. Chang’s locations in the U.S. and 192 Pei Wei Asian Diner restaurants.
With all of this talk of security breaches, many don’t understand how that happens. The most common way that thieves steal credit card data is by hacking into cash registers at retail locations and plant malicious software that then records the data stored on the card’s magnetic stripe when cards are swiped through the machine. The data can then be used to re-encode a new counterfeit credit card, which is then used to buy expensive goods that are often resold for cash. So far, the Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, and Sally Beauty security breaches were performed with malware planted in point-of-sale systems.