Landry’s Inc. acknowledged this week that it has been the subject of a credit card breach at some of its restaurants, but the restaurant operator doesn’t yet know the extent of the problem.
The breach was first reported by Krebs on Security, the blog by reporter Brian Krebs, who has been the first to report numerous credit card breaches in recent years.
Houston-based Landry’s, which operates several brands, including Landry’s Seafood, Rainforest Cafe, McCormick & Schmick’s and Morton’s, among others, said the company started receiving reports of unauthorized charges on payment cards after they were used at Landry’s restaurants.
The company, which operates more than 500 restaurant locations, said it immediately hired a cyber-security company to investigate the breach.
“We want to assure our customers that protecting their payment card information is a top priority and are working non-stop to complete the investigation,” Landry’s said in a release Thursday. “Even though we will not know the full scope of this incident until the investigation is completed, we will work vigilantly to address any potential issues that may affect our customers.”
Restaurants are frequent targets for credit card thieves, and there have been numerous breaches in recent years at major restaurant chains.
P.F. Chang’s, Jimmy John’s, Chick-fil-A and Elephant Bar have all acknowledged credit card breaches in the past two years.
Brad Cyprus, chief of security and compliance at security company Netsurion, said the holiday season tends to yield more security breaches.
“The pace of the busy holiday season has served as a distraction for businesses like restaurants, small hotels and hospitality chains,” he said.
Cyber crime costs businesses more than $300 billion worldwide, Cyprus said, most of it from stolen credit cards or identity theft.
Krebs wrote that the problem at Landry’s appears to have started last May, “and may still be impacting some Landry’s locations.”
In its release, Landry’s said that it started implementing system changes before it heard of reports of unauthorized usage, both at the restaurants where the activity occurred and at other locations in its system. The company said that its enhanced payment system encrypts credit card data throughout its processing system.
Landry’s also urged customers to monitor their account statements and report any unauthorized charges to the bank that issued the card.
“We encourage all consumers to follow good practices by regularly reviewing their payment card accounts and timely reporting unauthorized charges,” the company said.
Landry’s press release includes a frequently asked questions section for its restaurant customers.