Fraud Landscape Shifts as EMV Adoption Becomes More Widespread

It’s been just over two years since the liability shift around EMV pushed retailers and financial institutions towards adopting chip-enabled cards and terminals, and the fraud landscape for cybercriminals has shifted along with that adoption.

In June, Visa reported that it had issued nearly 450 million chip cards and that 50% of U.S. storefronts now accept the more secure payment cards. Visa also said that merchants who have upgraded their systems saw their counterfeit fraud dollars drop substantially from the previous year.

However, fraud is not disappearing, it’s just shifting, said Monica Eaton-Cardone, the co-founder and COO of Chargebacks911, on SurfWatch Labs recent Cyber Chat podcast.

“We have enough adoption — enough people, enough merchants are making that transition — that it’s already scared a lot of the criminals who were preying on these card-present ways of stealing cards, and they’ve already started leaving that market,” Eaton-Cardone said. “Unfortunately, what has happened is that all of that criminal activity has just migrated to the online environment.”

Squeeze one area of fraud, and malicious actors will simply rush to exploit other areas — a “fraud balloon,” as SurfWatch Labs Adam Meyer describes it. For example, in recent months SurfWatch Labs has observed an increase in both cryptocurrency attacks and attacks against consumer accounts tied to payment card information, and gift card fraud is expected to surge in the coming months as well.

Although the fraud landscape is shifting, ample opportunity still remains for fraudsters to exploit the old payment cards. The EMV liability shift for gas station pumps, which holds merchants using outdated technology responsible for fraudulent transactions on EMV cards, was originally set to go into affect last month — but that has since been pushed back until October 2020. Visa said the delay was due, in part, to gas stations needing more time to upgrade because of issues with a sufficient supply of regulatory-compliant EMV hardware and software.

Merchants have traditionally been focused on removing friction from purchases and making the process as fast as possible, Eaton-Cardone said. As a case in point, Chipotle announced a point-of-sale breach earlier this year after reportedly stating prior to the 2015 EMV deadline that it did not plan on upgrading its point-of-sale systems due to concerns such as increased transaction times.

“When you’re focused on speed, you’re probably not as focused on security, so maintaining that balance really can be a lifesaving item when it comes to protecting your business from liability,” Eaton-Cardone said.

That security should start with the basics, she said, such as:

  • continually keeping software up to date in order to avoid known exploits,
  • having a layered approach to fraud that includes both technology and human review so there is more than one line of defense,
  • and putting a key focus on protecting data by following the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and other well-established best practices.

Fraud is a dynamic issue, not a static one, and organizations need to adapt as the landscape changes — and that shift is increasingly towards the theft of data, Eaton-Cardone said.

“The world is transforming into a digital environment. It’s no longer cash is king. It’s really data is king.”

Listen to the podcast for more from Monica Eaton-Cardone on EMV technology, how organizations can defend against fraud, and what the fraud landscape will look like in the future.

Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: More Payment Card Breaches and Dark Web Arrests

Payment card breaches were back in the news again this week as Forever 21 announced that it is investigating a point-of-sale breach (POS) at some of its stores, and several other organizations issued breach announcements related to stolen payment card data.

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Forever 21 said that it received a report from a third party about potential unauthorized access to payment cards at some of the company’s stores, and the ongoing investigation is focusing on POS transactions made in stores between March 2017 and October 2017.

“Because of the encryption and tokenization solutions that Forever 21 implemented in 2015, it appears that only certain point of sale devices in some Forever 21 stores were affected when the encryption on those devices was not in operation,” the company wrote.

In addition, organizations continue to submit breach notification letters to various state attorneys general regarding the previously disclosed breach involving Sabre Hospitality Solutions SynXis Central Reservations system, including The Whitehall Hotel and JRK Hotel Group, both of which were impacted from August 10, 2016, through March 9, 2017. The Register also reported that Jewson Direct is notifying customers that their personal and payment card information may have been compromised due to the discovery of unauthorized code on its website. However, the company said the inclusion of card data in the notification was only “an advisory measure” as the investigation is ongoing.

The recent breaches, as well as other breaches such as Sonic, may have led to an increase in payment card fraud activity in the third quarter of 2017. Fraud activity is also expected to increase as consumers buy gift cards and other items over the holiday shopping season.

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Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • Organizations expose data: Researchers discovered a publicly exposed Apache Hive database belonging to ride-hailing company Fasten that contained the personal information of approximately one million users as well as detailed profiles of its drivers. A researcher said the Chinese drone maker DJI has exposed a variety of sensitive information via GitHub for up to four years, in addition to exposing customer information via insecure Amazon S3 buckets. Researchers discovered two insecure Amazon S3 buckets appearing to belong to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s commercial division,  including information regarding production services and stock files. The Maine Office of Information Technology said that approximately 2,100 residents who receive foster care benefits had their personal information temporarily posted to a public website after an employee at contractor Knowledge Services uploaded a file containing their data to a free file-comparison website without realizing that the information would become publicly accessible. Dignity Health is notifying employees that some of their personal information was accidentally exposed to other employees.
  • Employee email accounts compromised: ClubSport San Ramon and Oakwood Athletic Club is notifying employees that their W2 and tax statements were sent to a malicious actor following a phishing attack impersonating an executive. ABM Industries Incorporated is notifying employees that their personal information may have been compromised due a phishing attack that led to multiple email accounts being compromised. Saris Cycling Group is notifying employees that their personal information may have been compromised due a phishing email that led to an employee email account being compromised.
  • Extortion-related attacks: The website of Cash Converters was hacked, and the actors behind the attack said they would release the data of thousands of UK consumers unless a ransom is paid. Little River Healthcare Central Texas is notifying patients of a ransomware attack that may have accessed their information and led to some data being irretrievably deleted when the clinic tried to restore the files. Far Niente Winery is notifying individuals of a ransomware attack that may have compromised their personal information.
  • Other notable incidents: A group associated with Anonymous hacked the email accounts of an employee of Italy’s Defence Ministry and a member of the Italian police and then published a variety of information allegedly obtained from those accounts. Officials from Catawba County, North Carolina, said that malware shut down a number of county servers and caused temporary interruptions in service, as well as a number of spam emails being sent to county residents. Gallagher NAC is notifying individuals that their personal information may have been compromised due to “a small amount of data” being stolen from a database between June 18 and September 19. CafeMom is notifying customers that email addresses and passwords used to create accounts prior to July 2011 were compromised “at some point in the past.” AppDirect said that a phisher has been impersonating members of the company’s human resources, recruiting, and sales teams on job sites, and several people have applied to those fake listings and received fake job offers.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of those “newly seen” targets, meaning they either appeared in SurfWatch Labs’ data for the first time or else reappeared after being absent for several weeks, are shown in the chart below.

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Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

2017-11-18_RiskScoresDark Web markets continued to make headlines this week as a key player in AlphaBay’s operations was charged and cyber-attacks against other still-active dark web marketplaces temporarily disrupted operations.

Federal prosecutors allege that Ronald L. Wheeler III, of Streamwood, Illinois, worked as a spokesperson for the now-shuttered Dark Web marketplace AlphaBay. AlphaBay had grown to become the largest-ever Dark Web marketplace before it, along with the popular Hansa Market, were taken offline by law enforcement this past summer.

Wheeler is accused of working alongside Alexandre Cazes, a 25-year-old Canadian who was alleged to be the owner of AlphaBay known as “Alpha02.” Cazes reportedly committed suicide in his Thai jail cell a week after being arrested in July.

The Associated Press reported that Wheeler has pleaded not guilty to the AlphaBay-related charges, but prosecutors allege that he worked with Cazes using the name “Trappy” to moderate the AlphaBay forum on reddit, mediate sales disputes, and provide other non-technical assistance to users.

As SurfWatch Labs previously reported, the downfall of AlphaBay and Hansa Market elevated Dream Market to the temporary king of the Dark Web. However, Dream Market other popular markets have been the target of DDoS attacks over the past few weeks, making the sites difficult to access for some users. Those attacks can delay purchases beyond the already congested list of pending Bitcoin transactions, which is slowing down both legitimate and criminal transactions.

Prior to being seized, AlphaBay had grown to accept multiple payment options, including Ethereum and Monero; however, Dream Market still only accepts Bitcoin, and that restriction may help push some users towards other markets that have more, and quicker, payment options as the Dark Web marketplace continues to evolve in AlphaBay’s absence.

Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: Bad Rabbit’s Parallel Attack, Paradise Papers Fallout

October’s Bad Rabbit ransomware attacks were back in the news this week due to a report that a series of phishing attacks occurred at the same time as the Bad Rabbit outbreak, and the parallel attacks may have been carried out by the same group.

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The discovery also suggests that Ukraine may have been a key target of the attacks, despite Russian victims being more heavily targeted by Bad Rabbit.

The phishing attacks targeted users of Russian-designed 1C software with emails that appeared to be from the developer, the head of the Ukrainian state cyber police told Reuters. 1C products, including accounting software, are widely used in Ukraine.

The official said that 15 companies reported they were compromised by the attack, and it is possible that more people or organizations may have been affected due to 1C software’s wide use. The official also said the main theory is that both the Bad Rabbit and 1C phishing attacks were carried out by the same perpetrators with the goal of getting remote and undetected access in order to steal financial and confidential information. 1C’s developers did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment about the phishing attacks, but a Ukrainian distributor confirmed that its users were targeted and that it warned them to take extra precautions.

Some researchers have suggested that the Bad Rabbit attacks were carried out by the same group behind June’s NotPetya outbreak. The NotPetya attack leveraged a back door that had been inserted into the M.E.Doc accounting software, which Reuters reported is used by 80 percent of Ukrainian companies. The use of popular Ukrainian accounting software during both NotPetya and attacks potentially linked to Bad Rabbit is yet another shared connection between the two events.

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Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • Data breach announcements: Verticalscope, which manages popular Web discussion forums, confirmed that it discovered an intrusion that provided access to the individual website files of six websites. Tween Brands is notifying customers that their personal information may have been compromised due the discovery of unauthorized access to a server. HumanGood is notifying customers that their personal information may have been compromised due to unauthorized access at a third-party benefits coordination vendor. North American Title Company is notifying customers that their personal information may have compromised due to an employee’s email account being accessed by an unauthorized third party. Wilbraham, Lawler & Buba and the East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging announced ransomware attacks that could have also compromised personal information.
  • Data exposed: WikiLeaks released the source code for an alleged CIA hacking tool called “Hive,” and the release is just the first in a new series, dubbed “Vault 8,” that is intended to publish the source code from the variety of hacking tools described in the series of “Vault 7” publications earlier this year. A flaw in the website of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) exposes the search records and purchased documents of users such as investigative journalists and finance industry professionals. The website of the Scottish Appropriate Adult Network, which works with mentally impaired individuals that need help with the justice system, was shut down after it was found to be exposing the personal information of about 50 people. Klinger Moving Company is notifying employees that their personal information was briefly exposed due to a file that was stored on a company server being browsable via search engines.
  • Other notable incidents: NIC Asia Bank said that malicious actors initiated $4.4 million worth of fraudulent money transfers via the SWIFT messaging system last month; however, the bank was able to recover all but $580,000 of the funds. The anime streaming service Crunchyroll said that intruders planted a fake homepage that pushed a malicious “CrunchyViewer” program to its viewers for several hours. Approximately 800 school websites hosted by SchoolDesk displayed a pro-ISIS video after the company was hacked and a file was injected that redirected those websites to the video. Valley Family Medicine said that two now-former employees printed a mailing list of 8,450 patient names and addresses and used the list to make postcards informing them of a new practice.
  • Legal actions: A Pennsylvania man has been indicted for illegal trading via more than 50 hacked online brokerage accounts, which caused the firms servicing the accounts to lose more than $2 million. A former Minnesota resident has been charged with purchasing a year’s worth of DDoS attacks against his former employer Washburn Computer Group, as well as the networks of the Minnesota Judicial Branch, Hennepin County, and several banks. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office is warning employees to obey strict privacy laws on the heels of a charity worker at Rochdale Connections Trust being prosecuted for sending spreadsheets containing the personal information of 183 people to his personal email address.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of those “newly seen” targets, meaning they either appeared in SurfWatch Labs’ data for the first time or else reappeared after being absent for several weeks, are shown in the chart below.

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Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

2017-11-10_RiskScoresThe hack of a large cache of sensitive documents from the offshore law firm Appleby, which was first reported several weeks ago, has already begun to have potentially wide-reaching ramifications.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which also drove the reporting around the 2016 “Panama Papers” leak, has dubbed the new leak the “Paradise Papers.”

The Guardian reported that the now-exposed Appleby documents contain information related to numerous prominent individuals and organizations, such as Donald Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, associates of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, social media platforms Twitter and Facebook, corporations Apple and Nike, a variety of wealthy private individuals, and hundreds more.

Appleby reiterated this week that the theft of its data was not a leak by an insider, but “a serious criminal act” carried out “by an intruder who deployed the tactics of a professional hacker.” The company has previously stated that it had “thoroughly and vigorously investigated the allegations” from the ICIJ and was “satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients.”

The BBC reported that although the 2016 Panama Papers were larger is size, the way the Paradise Papers “lifts the lid on sophisticated, upper-end offshore dealings” is unprecedented. For example, Gabriel Zucman, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in The New York Times that $70 billion, or close to 20 percent of all U.S. corporate tax revenue, is lost every year due to shifting corporate profits to tax havens.

The ICIJ and nearly 100 media groups are continuing to dig through the 13.4 million documents spanning seven decades that make up the Paradise Papers. The BBC said the papers include 6.8 million documents related to the Appleby breach, 6 million documents from corporate registries in mostly Caribbean jurisdictions, and a smaller amount from the Singapore-based international trust and corporate services provider Asiaciti Trust.

Dozens more stories related to the Paradise Papers will likely be published in the near future, although it remains to be seen what political, economic, or reputational fallout will accompany the organizations and individuals impacted by the leak.

Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: Spain-Catalonia Conflict Goes Digital, Russian Hacking Revealed

The Spanish government was the week’s top trending cybercrime target due to a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and other attacks that were orchestrated by the hacktivist group Anonymous.

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The Anonymous’ campaign against the Spanish government comes on the heels of  Catalonia’s recent referendum on independence. As Miguel-Anxo Murado wrote in The New York Review last month, the multi-year independence movement finally came to a head in October as secessionists ignored both a ban placed on the vote by the Spanish Constitutional Court as well as the threat of police action and voted for independence.

That vote led to “mayhem,” Murado wrote, resulting in almost nine hundred people being injured throughout Catalonia as Spanish police confronted protesters and stormed polling stations in order to seize the ballot boxes. On Sunday, Reuters reported that Spain had issued arrest warrants for ex-Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont and four associates due to rebellion and sedition charges related to the push for recession.

The independence movement has also been accompanied by what one Washington Post editorial described as “The great Catalonian cyberwar of 2017.” According to the Post, Spanish courts and authorities have in the past few months ordered telecom companies to shut down websites pertaining to the vote and forced Google Play to remove an app related to the referendum. 

Scattered cyber-attacks have occurred as the issue unfolded over the past couple months; however, attacks ramped up towards the end of October as Anonymous groups on Twitter and elsewhere urged others to join the #FreeCatalonia campaign, which resulted in numerous organizations being targeted with DDoS attacks, website defacements, and other low-level malicious activity.

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Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • Extortion attacks: TheDarkOverlord said it hacked the customer database of Hollywood production studio Line 204, and the group is threatening to leak the company’s internal client data, which includes contracts, files, invoices, and more. The group told media outlets that it will leak the data if it does not receive an unspecified ransom, a threat the group has made to numerous other hacked organizations. A malicious actor has released the personal information of 29 University of the Fraser Valley students and is threatening to release more data if the school does not pay a $30,000 ransom.
  • Data leaked: Information related to 46.2 million Malaysian mobile phone numbers that was taken from Malaysian telephone companies and mobile virtual network operators in 2014 has leaked, and the data appears to have been traded among multiple malicious actors. An unnamed third party contractor for government agencies, a bank, and a utility exposed the details of 48,270 Australian employees due to a publicly accessible Amazon S3 bucket.
  • Third-party-related breaches: Malicious actors used information apparently stolen in another breach to create Iowa Public Employees Retirement Systems accounts for individuals who had never created one, and they used those accounts to steal pension checks by redirecting them to different bank accounts. Kimberly-Clark is notifying a “small number” of customers that their personal information may have been compromised due to attacks that targeted registered accounts using a list of credentials leaked in other data breaches not related to the company. Midland County in Texas said a third-party payment system used to pay fines may have been compromised resulting in an undisclosed number of individuals having their payment card information stolen.
  • Other data breaches: North Korean hackers were likely behind an April 2016 hack of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering that led to the theft of sensitive documents. Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Albany said that the personal information of clients and some employees was compromised due to hackers gaining access to a server. The certified public accountants Chiorini, Hunt & Jacobs are notifying customers that their personal information may have been compromised due to three email accounts being accessed. The Union Labor Life Insurance Company is notifying customers that their information may have been compromised when an unauthorized third-party briefly gained access to an employee’s email account and used that account to send spam messages that contained PDF documents with links to malicious sites.
  • Other notable incidents: Numerous art galleries confirmed they were targeted by business email compromise scams that hijacked email communications and requested payment details be changed in order to steal amounts up to £1 million. T-Mobile said it has called all of the few hundred customers targeted by malicious actors with attempts to “swap” the victims’ SIM cards and impersonate them. An unspecified cyber attack at the Oklahoma Corporate Commission led to its network being shut down for a week. A former University of Iowa student used keyloggers to steal credentials, access 250 student and faculty accounts, and then change his grades and access his exams early.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of those “newly seen” targets, meaning they either appeared in SurfWatch Labs’ data for the first time or else reappeared after being absent for several weeks, are shown in the chart below.

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Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

2017-11-04_RiskScoresThe investigation into Russia’s alleged election-related hacking brought several new developments this past week.

For starters, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice department has identified at least six members of the Russian government connected to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack, and evidence is being assembled to potentially bring official charges against those individuals next year. The WSJ said that dozens of others may have played a role in the hack; however, it is possible prosecutors may wait to identify some or all of those involved until Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into alleged Russian hacking is complete.

The Mueller investigation has already resulted in several indictments as well as a guilty plea for lying to the FBI from George Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign. The guilty plea has some overlap with the hacked emails, as court documents state that an overseas professor Papadopoulos met with multiple times “told him about the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails.’”

A Sunday report from the Associated Press lays out the timeline of Russia’s hacking attempts, and that campaign appears to have begun with phishing emails sent to a list of email addresses tied to staffers of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Most of those emails bounced back, but one of those staffers who had also joined the 2016 campaign ended up clicking on multiple phishing links — possibly providing the attackers with a fresh batch of email addresses to target. More than a dozen democrats were ultimately hacked, including John Podesta. One of Podesta’s hacked emails was the first document published by Guccifer 2.0, although it was altered. Guccifer 2.0 airbrushed the word “CONFIDENTIAL” onto the document and claimed the document came from the DNC rather than Podesta in order to entice reporters.

APT28, the group tied to the hacks, had wide-reaching targets far beyond the U.S. election, the AP reported. The group targeted the gmail accounts of 4,700 users spread across 116 countries, including Ukrainian officers, Russian opposition figures, U.S. defense contractors, and thousands of others of interest to the Kremlin. In the U.S. the targets included diplomatic and military officials; defense contractors such as Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, some republicans, and more than 130 democratic party workers.

‘Tis the Season: Gift Card Fraud Rampant on the Dark Web

The holiday shopping season is right around the corner, and gift cards are expected to remain as the most requested holiday gift for the tenth year in a row. It should come as no surprise then that gift card fraud has become a booming business for cybercriminals as they attempt to grab a slice of that $140 billion pie.

In fact, gift cards are one of the most frequently listed items on dark web marketplaces, and SurfWatch Labs expects the number of compromised gift cards for sale to rise in the coming months. As we noted last week in “How Cybercriminals Perpetuate Gift Card Fraud,” fraudsters employ a variety of simple tricks to find active gift card numbers and codes to steal — and millions of gift cards will soon be loaded with active balances across the country.

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The top 10 groups associated with gift-card-related cybercrime so far in 2017 include specialty retailers, which includes Amazon; business support services, which includes Visa; IT services and consulting, which includes Google and eBay; and computer hardware, which includes Apple.

SurfWatch Labs’ threat intelligence data has already shown a significant increase in fraud in the third quarter, and those fraud concerns will remain elevated throughout the holiday season.

Stolen Gift Cards on Marketplaces

Compromised gift cards are often sold on cybercriminal markets; however, legitimate gift card marketplaces have grown rapidly over the past few years and criminals have begun leveraging them to sell stolen gift cards or to aid in laundering money.

Marketplaces like Raise often provide customers links to help check gift card balances before listing. However, researchers have shown that balance-checking websites can be exploited by cybercriminals to determine active cards if the websites do not implement proper security measures.

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Legitimate marketplaces like Raise provide a place for users to buy and sell unused gift cards.

As Raise has grown in popularity, customers have reported multiple instances of gift cards having their balances completely or partially gone by the time buyers used them, as well as instances of tens of thousands of gift cards being used to launder stolen credit card money through the site.  Those issues may have helped push the company to expand its money-back guarantee on gift cards last year from 100 days to 365 days in order to help assuage some of the concerns users had about buying potentially compromised cards.

Stolen Gift Cards on the Dark Web

The dark web is in a more fluid state heading into this holiday season than it was in 2016, and that’s largely due to the law enforcement takedown of two of the top three most popular markets, AlphaBay and Hansa Market, this past summer. However, finding gift cards for sale on various smaller marketplaces is still relatively easy.

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Gift cards for a variety of restaurants, retailers, and other organizations are frequently posted for sale on Dark Web markets.

Over the past few months, SurfWatch Labs has observed a variety of gift cards for sale for popular organizations on cybercriminal markets. SurfWatch Labs has not purchased the cards or verified the legitimacy of the postings, but they include:

  • gift cards for popular chains such as Whole Foods ($100 for $35), Hooters ($50 for $10), and Starbucks ($10-$20 for $3);
  • various gift cards that may be partially used, such as a $17 Applebee’s gift card for $6.80, and a $32 Five Guys gift card for $12.80;
  • and sellers claiming to have gift cards for dozens of other restaurants, specialty retailers, hospitality organizations, entertainment venues, and more at similarly discounted prices.

It’s unclear how the numerous gift cards for sale were stolen — or what percentage are actually legitimate — but a quick search of a dozen random companies listed found that nearly all had websites where users could check their balances. And of those, only a few required CAPTCHAs, which researchers have suggested be implemented to help slow down automated attacks.

Other common gift card fraud prevention tactics include making sure that unactivated gift cards are not easily accessible and that their numbers are hidden behind scratch-off coverings, that organizations don’t use sequential numbering or other easily recognizable patterns with their gift cards, and that consumers who have gift cards use them in a reasonable time so the window for potential attacks is shortened. In addition, some stores have implemented limits on the amount of gift cards that can be purchased at once, have begun requiring photo ID for high-dollar purchases, and are attempting to warn buyers of potential scams related to gift cards.

However, until those increased protections become more widespread, we will likely once again see a rise in gift cards being leveraged for fraud and other illicit purposes this holiday season.