Works Bakery customers targeted by cyber thieves
On Friday, Feb. 1, The Works Bakery CafÃ© headquarters in Keene announced its cooperation with federal authorities in the investigation of the cyber theft that resulted in multiple customers' debit and credit card numbers being stolen, according to a press release published on the same day.
"It was a serious enough threat that they took immediate action," The Works' public relations representative Paul Young said. "Because they acted immediately, they were able to limit the number of card numbers that were stolen."
Young said that The Works has never stored any credit or debit card information and that the breach was a result of cybercriminals using malware to target the company.
He couldn't say exactly where and how many card numbers were compromised out of the franchise's six locations, but said that there had been no reported card thefts from its branch in Portland, Maine.
There have, however, been a number of recent cases in Durham in which people have had hundreds of dollars stolen from their banking accounts. Priscilla Tengdin, a UNH sophomore, said she had close to $1,000 stolen from her checking account and believes that her debit card number was one of the ones stolen from The Works' computer system.
"I'm a regular customer there," Tengdin said. "And the money was stolen from my account the same week all of this happened."
Tengdin said that two of her neighbors, with whom she frequents The Works for morning bagels, each had hundreds of dollars stolen from their accounts as well.
Young said that the reason the technical breach was made possible is still unknown.
"I think that they (The Works) have very stringent control on their computer systems," Young said. "Like any other crime, criminals have found out a way they can make money."
Although cybercrime has been increasing among small businesses in recent years, some IT experts feel that it is partially due to companies not properly updating their anti-virus software.
IT Director at Neoscope Technology Solutions Tom Duprey said that the key is to be vigilant and stay one step ahead.
"Typically, a lot of small business owners will tend to, by no fault of their own, not keep their virus definitions up to date," Duprey said. "I think they should look at their current anti-virus and anti-malware situation and find a vendor such as ourselves to see where they're at, where they should be, and see where the gap is so they can fill it."
Located in Portsmouth, Neoscope is an IT service provider that supports small- to medium-sized businesses in the Seacoast area. Duprey said he frequently sees situations where computer systems are hacked, usually due to a lack of proper IT support service.
Young said the technical issues have been resolved and the incident has not negatively impacted business.
"The important thing is that things are fine now," Young said. "The company has worked with the government and IT specialists, and it is totally fine to use a debit or credit card at any of the locations again."
While Tengdin has resolved the missing funds in her account with her banking provider, she said she is reluctant to use her debit card at The Works again.
"I love The Works, and I will continue to be a customer," Tengdin said. "But I will only be paying in cash from now on, and I know my neighbors will, too."
How the computer breach will impact future business of the franchise remains to be seen.
As of now, the company is operating without issue, which its representatives attribute to its loyal communities.
"I cannot overstate the importance which I place on the relationships I have built with our customers over the more than 20 years I have run this business," said company president Richard French in a statement released on Feb. 1. "We look forward to continuing to provide our customers with great food and excellent service for decades to come."
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