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Chain Reaction finds and plugs security hole that led to fraud

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Popular UK-based biking site ChainReactionCycles.com has confirmed that a security breach on its systems led to fraud against its customers.

Some of the cyclists who shopped with the site earlier this month noticed fraud against their credit cards days later, normally fraudulent purchases of mobile phone top-ups costing around £30. The common factor behind these fraudulent transactions quickly emerged, largely via discussions on bike enthusiast forums, as recent purchases at the North Ireland-based cycle outfit.

Chain Reaction Cycles (CRC) responded to the reports by calling in outside help and launching an investigation. Security experts have since identified a problem on CRC's systems that is likely to have resulted in the security breach and subsequent fraud.

CRC has plugged the hole and tightened up its systems. In an email to two-wheel enthusiasts, forwarded to El Reg, CRC apologised for the snafu and offered a goodwill gesture of a free £30 voucher to affected customers.

The independent forensic investigation has shown that our infrastructure was the target of a sophisticated attack which resulted in the theft of card details relating to a number of our customers.

Details were being stolen 'real time' and only a small proportion of recent CRC customers were affected. The access point of the theft has been identified and permanently closed off so we are confident that we have fully addressed any weakness in our infrastructure.

Banking regulations in the UK mean that victims should be able to reclaim fraudulently charged purchases, although this may involve a degree of inconvenience and short-term hassle, possibly involving the replacement of compromised cards and a wait until funds are returned. CRC deserves credit for responding quickly to reports of problems, bringing in experts to initiate an investigation, and keeping customers updated about what was happening throughout. Other firms responding to similar instances of fraud have been far less open and professional. ®

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