Data breaches in the past few years have seemingly spiraled out of control — Ivy League universities have been affected, the government has been targeted on a massive scale, and it’s estimated that about 43% of businesses experienced some sort of data leakage or security breach in 2013 alone.
But cyberhackers have reached a new low: the newest targets for data breaches are now zoos.
That’s right — bring your family to the zoo for a fun-filled Saturday, purchase a stuffed lion and a water bottle at the zoo’s gift shop, and a few weeks later you get to see your bank account completely drained.
The Detroit Zoo announced that it suffered a security breach just a few weeks ago, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The Houston Zoo confirmed on July 9 that it had also been subject to a credit card breach sometime between March 23 and June 25, Click2Houston.com reported.
The list keeps going — nine major zoos across the country were all hit with credit card system security breaches, because all nine used the same third-party payment processing system Service Systems Associates (SSA).
SSA, based in Denver, detected malware in its software after information had already been stolen from customers; everything from personal names, to credit and debit card numbers, to the three-digit CVV security numbers were stolen.
FOX 31 Denver reported that the only purchases affected were those made in zoo gift shops. Any purchases made at concession stands, for admission, donations, or memberships were not affected in any of the system breaches.
SSA issued an apology on its website shortly after the malware was discovered. Fox 31 Denver reported that SSA provides payment processing services to about 40 zoos, museums, and tourist attraction locations across the country, but that the company declined to specify which attractions were affected.
Again, this seems to serve as just another reminder: if you use your credit or debit card to make purchases, always be careful to check your statements closely and immediately report any possible fraudulent purchases.