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NCR’s Aloha POS Hit By Ransomware Attack : BlackCat Claims Responsibility

In an unexpected twist of digital mayhem, the heartbeats of countless businesses were momentarily suspended as ransomware cast its menacing shadow upon NCR’s Aloha POS, disrupting the very lifeline of transactions and leaving merchants in a state of financial uncertainty!

NCR is an American software and technology consultancy firm that offers solutions for digital banking, POS systems, and payment processing for restaurants, enterprises, and shops.

From Wednesday, 12th April, 2023, customers started to face issues with the accessibility of one of its products, the Aloha POS. After keeping quiet about it for several days, NCR disclosed that it experienced a cyber ransomware incident impacting one of its data centers and causing an outage that affected specific commerce customers.

The BlackCat ransomware group, also known as Alphv, has taken responsibility for the recent cyberattack on NCR’s systems. In their initial statement, the hackers mentioned that NCR representatives had been in communication with them to determine the scope of the data breach. However, the post sharing this information was subsequently deleted, suggesting that negotiations between the two parties may be ongoing, potentially involving a ransom payment by NCR. The specific amount of the ransom has not been disclosed by NCR at this moment.

NCR has provided an incident report stating that they are actively working on restoring access for their restaurant and retail customers. They are focusing on making their Insight and NCR Back Office cloud environments available as soon as possible. Once achieved, restaurant data will be uploaded and processed through Insight, NBO, and Pulse. Impacted clients will receive an email with replication configuration details after a few days.

NCR suffers Aloha POS outage after BlackCat ransomware attack

Impact of Aloha’s Ransomware Attack on its Users

Customers of Aloha POS have taken to Reddit to express their distress over the outage caused by the recent cyberattack. Many have reported substantial disruptions to their business operations, including concerns about meeting payroll deadlines for their employees. In response to the ongoing outage, some customers have suggested manually extracting data from the available files as an interim solution.

Adding to the tension, the threat actors responsible for the attack have asserted that they possess stolen credentials belonging to NCR’s customers. They have further threatened to publicly disclose these credentials unless a ransom is paid. The situation has raised anxieties among affected businesses, heightening the urgency to resolve the issue promptly.

What Caused Aloha NCR to be Compromised by Ransomware?

There are several potential reasons why a POS company like Aloha NCR could be targeted and compromised by ransomware. These include-

  • Remote Access and Third-Party Vendors: POS systems often require remote access for maintenance and support purposes. If proper security measures are not in place, attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in remote access tools or compromise third-party vendors to gain access to the POS system.
  • Vulnerabilities in Software: POS systems often run on specialized software that may have vulnerabilities or security weaknesses. Hackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to the system and install ransomware.
  • Phishing Attacks: Phishing attacks are a common method used by hackers to trick employees into revealing login credentials or clicking on malicious links. If an employee falls for a phishing email or message, it can provide an entry point for attackers to gain control over the POS system.
  • Weak Passwords: Weak or easily guessable passwords can make it easier for hackers to gain unauthorized access to the POS system. If the POS company or its clients use weak passwords or reuse passwords across multiple accounts, it increases the risk of a successful attack.
  • Outdated Software and Security Patches: Failure to regularly update and patch software leaves the system vulnerable to known security vulnerabilities. Attackers actively search for unpatched systems to exploit, and if a POS company neglects to update their software promptly, it increases the risk of a successful ransomware attack.
  • Insider Threats: In some cases, insiders with authorized access to the POS system may intentionally or unintentionally facilitate a ransomware attack. This could involve disgruntled employees, contractors, or vendors who abuse their access privileges.

It’s important to note that each situation may have unique circumstances, and specific details about any given attack would be necessary to provide a comprehensive analysis of how a particular company like Aloha NCR was compromised.

Lesson Learned from NCR Aloha’s Cyberattack: Choosing the Right POS System

When selecting a POS system for your restaurant business, it’s crucial to consider vendors that prioritize protecting your business from cyberattacks. To ensure you make an informed decision, keep the following factors in mind:

1. Cybersecurity Focus: Look for vendors that prioritize cybersecurity in their POS systems. Research their track record and inquire about any previous incidents or vulnerabilities they have encountered. Choose vendors that actively invest in enhancing security features and regularly update their software to address emerging threats.

2. Uptime and Availability: A reliable POS system is essential for seamless business operations. Evaluate vendors that publish uptime and availability data, showcasing their system’s stability and minimal downtime. This information can help you gauge the vendor’s commitment to maintaining a robust and dependable system.

3. Data Security Measures: Data breaches can have severe consequences for your business, so it’s crucial to choose a POS system that employs robust data security measures. Inquire about encryption protocols, user authentication mechanisms, and compliance with industry standards such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Ensure the vendor has implemented measures like data encryption at rest and in transit, regular security audits, and vulnerability assessments.

4. Vendor Transparency: Transparency is key when it comes to choosing a POS system. Seek vendors that are open about their security practices and willingly provide detailed information about their data protection measures. Look for vendors that have published benchmark reports and publicly available audits or certifications related to data security. These resources can help you assess the vendor’s commitment to transparency and the effectiveness of their security controls.

By considering these factors, you can make a more informed decision and choose a POS system from vendors that prioritize cybersecurity, provide transparency, and demonstrate a strong commitment to protecting your business from cyber threats. Remember to conduct thorough research, request references, and consult with industry professionals to ensure the chosen POS system meets your specific needs and security requirements.

Ending Note

The motivations behind the specific targeting of NCR’s Aloha POS platform by the BlackCat/ALPHV gang remain uncertain. Nevertheless, addressing the repercussions of cyberattacks like these and restoring normal operations in a secure manner often involves a significant amount of time and effort. While NCR has initiated negotiations with the ransomware group, the exact measures they will undertake to recover the stolen credentials and data have not been disclosed at this stage. The situation underscores the complexity and challenges associated with mitigating the impact of such attacks.

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