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Restaurant chain uses CARBON PAPER to fight credit card hack

Ye olde click-clack card imprint machines are back at P.F. Chang's China Bistro

Website security in corporate America

Chinese restaurant chain P.F. Chang's China Bistro has resorted to mechanical credit card imprint-capture machines after credit and debit card information was stolen from some of its 200+ restaurants.

The company says that last Tuesday, June 10th, “P.F. Chang's learned of a security compromise” and “Immediately … initiated an investigation with the United States Secret Service and a team of third-party forensics experts to understand the nature and scope of the incident.”

That investigation “is still ongoing” but has already “concluded that data has been compromised.”

The chain admits that “credit card and debit card numbers that have been used at P.F. Chang's are involved.”

So far, so bad: this kind of stuff is happening often enough that the story did not ripple out far beyond Krebs On Security's initial report.

The breach is now attracting more attention, in part because it has been confirmed and in part because of the chain's response: the company says it has “provided manual credit card imprinting devices to all P.F. Chang's China Bistro branded restaurants in the continental U.S. to prevent any further potential exposure of our guests' credit and debit card information.”

That decision means old-school click-clack card readers, complete with fiddly carbon paper, are now the way to use plastic to pay at P.F. Chang's.

While the move will go down well with those wielding conventional plastic, plenty of newfangled chip-equipped debit cards (or at least those here in Vulture South's antipodean eyrie) don't offer raised numerals that old-school imprinters can capture. If P.F. Chang's is processing those cards, it will need to add instructions to write very neatly, and press very hard, to the instructions it offers to staff as they unravel this mess. ®

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