Data breach at Detroit Zoo, 8 other zoos investigated

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A Detroit zoo vendor is investigating a data security breach of its computerized cash registers in gift shops at nine zoos across the country.

Authorities contacted the zoos about stolen credit card information, officials said.

“We are obviously concerned that the vendor’s system was compromised,” Gerry VanAcker, the zoo’s chief operating officer, said in a statement Wednesday. “Transactions made since June 26 are not affected by the previous breach, and it is safe to use a credit or debit card at SSA’s retail locations.”

Service Systems Associates, which operates concessions and retail services for the Detroit Zoo, is working with a forensic technology expert to investigate the matter and prevent it from happening in the future.

Officials said malicious software was found in the system, affecting purchases made at zoo gift shops between March 23 and June 25.

After learning of the breach, SSA installed a separate credit card processing system at its retail outlets.

In addition to credit and debit card numbers, the hackers reportedly gained access to card holders’ names, card expiration dates and three-digit CVV security codes.

Officials said the zoo’s information technology systems — including those for ticket and membership sales — were not impacted by the data breach and are secure.

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