Houston Zoo Discovers Credit Card Security Breach

Some customers may have had their credit card information compromised after a recent data breach at the Houston Zoo’s gift shops. One cybersecurity expert says he’s not surprised.

Houston Zoo entrance
Houston Zoo entrance

David Mei and his family drove from Stafford to see the Houston Zoo’s new gorilla exhibit. After learning about the data breach, he says he plans on paying in cash.

“I’m actually not surprised because it’s pretty prevalent in today’s society,” Mei says. “So it puts the onus on a lot of companies to really maintain their IT infrastructure and make sure that they’re protected against this.”

Mei’s data should be safe now. The breach affected credit card systems at the Houston Zoo’s gift shops between March 23 and June 25. The machines are operated by the Denver-based Service Systems Associates. In an online statement, the company’s CEO says the malware that caused the breach has been removed, and visitors should feel confident using their credit cards.

Rakesh Verma is a computer science professor at the University of Houston. He says cyberattacks are becoming increasingly common, affecting everything from government agencies to retail.

“I think we as a nation really need to gear up very quickly to combat this and make data safer,” Verma says.

He says upgrading those systems can be costly, but the security is often worth the expense.

Guests who believe their credit cards have been compromised should email or call 713-533-6699.