Heartland Payment Systems disclosed last month that intruders hacked into the computers it uses to process 100 million payment card transactions per month for 175,000 merchants. The intruders appear to have had access to Heartland’s system for a considerable period of time in late 2008. Apparently, the number of victims is unknown. According to tech security experts, the breach could set a record.
Heartland processes card payments for restaurants, retailers and other merchants. It discovered the security breach in mid-January when Visa and MasterCard notified the company of suspicious transactions stemming from accounts linked to its systems. Investigators then found the data-stealing program planted by the thieves. Heartland’s disclosure coincides with reports of heightened criminal activities involving stolen payment card numbers. Security firm CardCops has been tracking a 20% year-over-year increase in Internet chat room activity where hackers test batches of payment card numbers to make sure that they’re active. This has the potential for a tremendous loss for Heartland and its customers.
Source: USA Today and ABC News
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