HEI confirms data breach

Norwalk CT (hospitalitybusinessnews.com) HEI hotels and resorts confirmed today that several of their hotels have been involved in a “security incident”.

A spokesperson said ” unfortunately, like many other organizations, we recently became aware that several of our properties may have been the victim of a security incident that could have affected the payment card information of certain individuals who used payment cards at point-of-sale terminals, such as food and beverage outlets, at some of our properties. We take very seriously our responsibility to keep our customers’ information secure, and have mounted a thorough response to investigate and resolve this incident, bolster our data security, and support our customers.  We are pleased to report that the incident has now been contained and individuals can safely use payment cards at all of our properties. We are sorry for any concern or frustration that this incident may cause.”

The company stated that based upon an extensive forensic investigation, it appears that unauthorized individuals installed malicious software on their payment processing systems at certain properties designed to capture payment card information as it was routed through these systems.

When asked about this breach, John Christly, CISO at Netsurion, a provider of remotely-managed security services for multi-location businesses stated:

“Another day, another major hotel chain being breached by what is suspected to be malware on the POS system. Hospitality companies must understand that they are in a digital war with cybercriminals that are after payment card data. And it’s a harsh reality that the war is being won far too often by these hackers. Any business, regardless of size or vertical specialty, that processes payment data or offers free Wi-Fi to guests, is a lucrative breach target, but unfortunately, large chains like HEI have bull’s-eyes on their backs— enticing hackers with large quantities of valuable information such as credit card data for patrons, sensitive employee data for staff, and sometimes even medical data used by in-house care facilities.

Traditional cybersecurity defenses just aren’t cutting it anymore. And customers of these establishments deserve the best possible security of their data—and they should expect it too. New defensive approaches, advanced cybersecurity tools and increased cyber intelligence need to be deployed, which usually come from a relationship with an outside vendor due to the specialized knowledge needed to understand what the tools and resulting information being gathered is telling you. Possible tools include things like File Integrity Monitoring, Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliances, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and next-generation endpoint security solutions.

When systems like this are in place and managed appropriately, the processes within the programs and the computer operating system and memory will be watched for suspicious activity— and those tools will talk to other tools that have even deeper threat intelligence from a network of other deployed sensors. It’s very difficult to defend against the emerging threats of today’s cybersecurity world on your own. For the best outcome, these advanced toolsets should be outsourced to a managed security firm specializing in this type of service—which includes expert threat researchers that constantly look for new activity that could point to a hacker trying to steal data from your systems. This proactive approach will help to keep organizations out of the breach headlines.”

The hotels affected were as follows:

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