Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Payment Processor Heartland Hit With Security Breach, 100 million Accounts Vulnerable

Information is now being disclosed about a massive data breach that hit payment processor, Heartland Payment Systems, late last year. The breach may have may have led to the theft of more than 100 million credit and debit card accounts.

Robert Baldwin, Heartland's president and chief financial officer, said the company had receiving several fraudulent activity reports late last year from MasterCard and Visa on cards that had all been used at merchants which rely on Heartland to process payments.

"We found evidence of an intrusion last week and immediately notified federal law enforcement officials as well as the card brands," said Baldwin. "We understand that this incident may be the result of a widespread global cyber fraud operation, and we are cooperating closely with the United States Secret Service and Department of Justice."

Upon investigating suspicious activity surrounding processed card transactions, Heartland uncovered malicious software that compromised data that crossed Heartland's network. The company reportedly took immediately steps to further secure its systems. In addition, Heartland will implement a next-generation program designed to flag network anomalies in real-time and enable law enforcement to expeditiously apprehend cyber criminals.

Heartland has created a website, www.2008breach.com, to provide information about this incident. It is advised that you check your credit reports for any suspicious activity and scan your credit card statements closely. Even the smallest of charges should be considered suspicious as credit card thieves often create a test charge for something small to see if the card works. Then they'll go in for the kill and buy those high ticket items.

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