Costa Coffee has informed members of its loyalty scheme that it has detected unusual activity on some accounts.
In an email seen by IT Security Guru, it says that it has conducted a full security review and in the interim, removed the ability to access user’s Coffee Club account online.
It said: “We have already contacted those customers affected and we are taking the additional precaution to reset the account passwords of every Coffee Club member. We are also introducing a new format for your password to further optimise security and protect your Coffee Club points. Your account password will be reset in the next few days and we will confirm via email when this is completed.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this causes but it’s very important to us that your points and registration details remain safe. We thank you for your patience.”
Brian Spector, CEO of CertiVox, said: “Today’s Costa Coffee hack is yet another breach of a perceived ‘low value application’ and as such as been deemed low risk. However the cyber criminals responsible have still got away with a number of users private, personal data.
“Furthermore, at this stage we can’t be sure they haven’t taken something even more valuable – Costa’s password database. The most logical step of course is for organisations like Costa to move away from passwords altogether and look at other, far more secure solutions. As long as companies continue to use passwords, they will have a password database, which is a high-value target for cyber criminals to breach.”
Andy Heather, head of sales for EMEA at HP Security Voltage, said: “I am sure most people don’t give a second thought when providing personal information for loyalty cards, it’s not like a credit card is it? But perhaps it is time to think again before we give up such data and while organisations are doing their best using a traditional security approach it still leaves a lot to be desired.
“Costa has stated that financial data has not been compromised in this breach, but stopped short of disclosing what personal customer information was actually left unprotected. Most retailers do collect personal information on their customers such as their addresses, identification numbers and dates of birth. If left unprotected, this information would give the attackers almost all of the information they need to undertake fraudulent activity on the a compromised user’s behalf.”
Heather said that this breach highlights the need for companies to place tighter controls on how their customers’ sensitive information is stored and protected as if data is left unprotected, it’s not a matter of “if” it will be compromised – it’s a matter of “when”.
“If Costa had employed format-preserving encryption to protect the data itself, the attackers would have ended up with unusable encrypted data instead of the current outcome where an untold amount of their customers’ personal information is now in the hands of cyber criminals,” he said.
“The value of this personal data to the cyber criminal has a much greater value, for example where the selling price for a single stolen credit card is around $1, if that card information is sold with a full identify profile that can dramatically increase up to $500. If the cyber criminals know where the real value is then surely we should all expect responsible organisation to pay appropriate attention to keeping our personal information safe.”