Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Atlanta-based Chick-Fil-A Inc., a quick-service restaurant chain specializing in chicken, began an investigation on Dec. 19, 2014, into a security breach alleged to have occurred at several of its restaurants. The privately held, family owned company has more than 1,850 locations in 41 states and over $5 billion in annual sales.
The company said its management is cooperating with law enforcement and information technology (IT) security analysts, and it will share details on affected locations and the specific nature of the attacks as they become available. At this time, "it would be premature to comment further given the pending investigation," the company stated.
Sources familiar with Chick-Fil-A stated the company has averted web-based threats to its enterprise-level wide area networks from the time it first implemented broadband technologies in 2005.
Tony Letts, a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, was Chick-Fil-A IT Manager from January 2001 to March 2013. He noted that during this time, he led Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance measures and processing systems upgrades at 1,200 locations. Letts and his team consolidated threat monitoring and alerts at corporate and restaurant locations and upgraded network infrastructure. He was later promoted to Manager of Restaurant Operations and Support.
In 2005, Chick-Fil-A entered a partnership with Cybera, a third-party network services provider that helped Chick-Fil-A optimize its card payment processing network. The project introduced additional security measures to the network and reduced authorization times from about 16 seconds to "sub 8 seconds," a company press release noted at the time. Chick-Fil-A Senior Manager of Technical Architecture and Operations also stated that broadband "brought about a sea change in capabilities that can now positively impact all business functions."
John McCormick, Vice President of General Credit Forms and board member of the Southeast Acquirers Association, sees Chick-Fil-A's ongoing commitment to customer service as "more than just lip service, [but as a value that's] firmly ingrained in the culture of the company."
McCormick worked with Chick-Fil-A Chief Executive Officer Dan Cathy and other company representatives during the SEAA's 2010 conference held in Atlanta, and he remains impressed by the organization's passion to provide a great customer experience.
"Mr. Cathy wanted to make sure that his presentation would be relevant and on point for our participants, so he invited me to join him for a day-long tour and presentation to future store operators," McCormick said.
He added that the main theme of Cathy's presentation at SEAA was "the importance of providing the best possible customer experience at every customer engagement point ‒ from helping customers carry food to their table and pulling out the chair, to refilling drinks if they notice someone is running low, to helping clear the table if they see you are finished with your meal, to their standard response of 'My Pleasure' when replying to customers."
McCormick indicated he is not alone in expecting that the company and its stakeholders will model the way for others as they investigate this reported security breach and undertake steps to further protect and secure the company's POS processing systems.
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