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Expert fears private Kwik Trip customer data at risk due to disruptions

Kwik Trip picture
Posted at 9:43 AM, Oct 16, 2023

MEQUON, Wis. — A power outage caused Kwik Trip app users to be unable to use their app.

According to Kwik Trip's X account, app users are still experiencing issues. Guests who have the Kwik Trip card cannot make purchases at the moment. Kwik Trip said several areas are impacted. The Mequon Kwik Trip had several paper signs taped to doors alerting customers of the issue.

Kwik Trip sign
Paper signs alert customers of the rewards outage.

"We have been working diligently to restore our systems as quickly and safely as possible," Kwik Trip Public Relations Specialist Amy DuPont said. "We have made significant progress over the past few days and anticipate that services will be incrementally restored over the coming days. We will let you know of any further developments and appreciate your patience."

Patience is something Niki Schultz is willing to afford a place that's earned her respect.

"Kwik Trip is my go-to, for sure," Schultz said. "But unfortunately, if nothing is done about this, I will probably go elsewhere."

Earlier this week, Schultz, who lives in Waterloo, was at a Kwik Trip in Oconomowoc. She had forgotten her purse but had her Kwik Trip credit card with her.

"I swiped my rewards plus credit card and it said invalid card," Schultz recalled. "I tried three times swiping my card and it kept saying invalid."

She had to drive back to Waterloo and then back to Oconomowoc, more than an hour round trip. It was already an inconvenience, but now she's nervous about how this could impact her finances. She tried to pay off a balance on her Kwik Trip card, but because of the outage she's unable to do so. If she's penalized for not making an on-time payment, it could spell disaster for her family.

"Being a single mom of two boys and currently not working, it would be a big impact," Schultz said.

But this could be just the beginning of trouble for her and customers across the state. One expert believes this could be the signs of a cyberattack that could impact both Kwik Trip and its customers.

"It sounds like a cyberattack and quite serious at that," Alex Holden, Chief Information Security Officer at Hold Security said. "The gas stations are still functional which is a good thing. But some of the infrastructure most likely within Kwik Trips have been disabled for five days now. That's a very long time. Usually companies on day two or day three give us some kind of status."

Holden says this situation has all of the earmarks of a cyberattack.

"This seems to be a situation with ransomware where the bad guys get into the systems of the company, encrypt it, lock away their data and most likely stole some data as well," Holden said.

These types of attacks are becoming more prevalent. According to the FBI, internet crimes were responsible for $6.9 billion dollars in losses in 2021. That number jumped to $10.2 billion last year.

The FBI data also shows in Wisconsin, there were $15,000 in losses due to ransomware in 2021. Last year, that jumped to $286,200.

Just last month, Johnson Controls was struck by a ransomware attack, where hackers demanded $51 million. According to an SEC filing on Sept. 27, Johnson Controls said it "has experienced disruptions in portions of its internal information technology infrastructure and applications resulting from a cybersecurity incident."

In August, Caesars Entertainment, a Las Vegas casino, faced a cyberattack where they paid a $15 million ransom. But it didn't stop there.

Thursday, Caesars told its customers at least 41,397 people had their data stolen in the grift, according to The Register.

Holden says, even though Kwik Trip and Caesars are on different levels, the cyber swindle remains the same and people in Wisconsin should be concerned.

"They should be taking this more seriously because at the end of the day, it's likely a cyberattack," Holden said. "Their information can be endangered if they trusted anything to Kwik Trip."