Dairy Queen announced a few days ago that it had become the latest company to become a victim of a major data breach at 395 of its stores by way of the infamous “Backoff” malware downloaded on to the computer systems of the affected stores by first hacking into a third-party vendor of Dairy Queen that had access to the Dairy Queen computers. Although the data breach was only recently discovered, the actual breach occurred in August and September. The information stolen as a result of this data breach included the names of customers, their credit card and debit card numbers as well as the expiration dates of their cards. This is the same malware and same method of implanting the malware that was first used on a large scale in the Target data breach and repeated in numerous other data breaches since then. In fact, I wrote a column for USA Today on September 27th entitled “Coming soon: Another major retailer hacked” in which I provided a fill-in-the-blank format for the stories of future data breaches in which I predicted exactly how they would occur in the future which is precisely what happened at Dairy Queen. Here is a link to that column: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/09/27/hacking-target-home-depot-credit-card/16221427/
As I so often say, you are only as safe as the places you do business with who have the weakest security. Despite government warnings last July to retailers about the dangers of the “Backoff” malware, thousands of retailers have still not taken the necessary steps to protect their computer systems. All that we can do is to refrain from using debit cards for retail purchases and only use credit cards. The laws protecting you from fraudulent use of debit cards are not as strong as those that pertain to fraudulent use of credit cards. Also, since there is always a time lag from the time that the data breach actually occurs and when the company realizes that it has been hacked, it is important to regularly monitor your credit card statements for fraudulent purchases.