Panerabread.com, the Web site for the American chain of bakery-cafe fast casual restaurants by the same name, leaked millions of customer records — including names, email and physical addresses, birthdays and the last four digits of the customer’s credit card number — for at least eight months before it was yanked offline earlier today, KrebsOnSecurity has learned.
The data available in plain text from Panera’s site appeared to include records for any customer who has signed up for an account to order food online via panerabread.com. The St. Louis-based company, which has more than 2,100 retail locations in the United States and Canada, allows customers to order food online for pickup in stores or for delivery.
KrebsOnSecurity learned about the breach earlier today after being contacted by security researcher Dylan Houlihan, who said he initially notified Panera about customer data leaking from its Web site back on August 2, 2017.
A long message thread that Houlihan shared between himself and Panera indicates that Mike Gustavison, Panera’s director of information security, initially dismissed Houlihan’s report as a likely scam. A week later, however, those messages suggest that the company had validated Houlihan’s findings and was working on a fix.
“Thank you for the information we are working on a resolution,” Gustavison wrote.
Fast forward to early this afternoon — exactly eight months to the day after Houlihan first reported the problem — and data shared by Houlihan indicated the site was still leaking customer records in plain text. Worse still, the records could be indexed and crawled by automated tools with very little effort.
For example, some of the customer records include unique identifiers that increment by one for each new record, making it potentially simple for someone to scrape all available customer accounts. The format of the database also lets anyone search for customers via a variety of data points, including by phone number.
“Panera Bread uses sequential integers for account IDs, which means that if your goal is to gather as much information as you can instead about someone, you can simply increment through the accounts and collect as much as you’d like, up to and including the entire database,” Houlihan said.
Asked whether he saw any indication that Panera ever addressed the issue he reported in August 2017 until today, Houlihan said no.
“No, the flaw never disappeared,” he said. “I checked on it every month or so because I was pissed.”
Shortly after KrebsOnSecurity spoke briefly with Panera’s chief information officer John Meister by phone today, the company briefly took the Web site offline. As of this publication, the site is back online but the data referenced above no longer appears to be reachable.
Another data point exposed in these records included the customer’s Panera loyalty card number, which could potentially be abused by scammers to spend prepaid accounts or to otherwise siphon value from Panera customer loyalty accounts.
It is not clear yet exactly how many Panera customer records may have been exposed by the company’s leaky Web site, but incremental customer numbers indexed by the site suggest that number may be higher than seven million. It’s also unclear whether any Panera customer account passwords may have been impacted.
In a written statement, Panera said it had fixed the problem within less than two hours of being notified by KrebsOnSecurity. But Panera did not explain why it appears to have taken the company eight months to fix the issue after initially acknowledging it privately with Houlihan.
“Panera takes data security very seriously and this issue is resolved,” the statement reads. “Following reports today of a potential problem on our website, we suspended the functionality to repair the issue. Our investigation is continuing, but there is no evidence of payment card information nor a large number of records being accessed or retrieved.”
Update, 8:40 p.m. ET: Almost minutes after this story was published, Panera gave a statement to Fox News (no link will be provided) downplaying the severity of this breach, stating that only 10,000 customer records were exposed. Almost in an instant, multiple sources — especially @holdsecurity — pointed out that Panera had basically “fixed” the problem by requiring people to log in to a valid user account at panerabread.com in order to view the exposed customer records (as opposed to letting just anyone with the right link access the records).
Subsequent links shared by Hold Security indicate that this data breach may be far larger than the 7 million customer records initially reported as exposed in this story. The vulnerabilities also appear to have extended to Panera’s commercial division which serves countless catering companies. At last count, the number of customer records exposed in this breach appears to exceed 37 million. Thank you to Panera for pointing out the shortcomings of our research. As of this update, the entire Web site panerabread.com is offline.
For anyone interested in my response to Panera’s apparent end-run around my reporting, see my tweets.