Feeds

US credit card payment house breached by sniffing malware

Suspicious activity in the Heartland

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Heartland Payment Systems - a payments processor that serves more than 250,000 US businesses - warned consumers Tuesday that their card data may have been compromised following a security breach of the company's payment system.

The Princeton, New Jersey firm said forensic investigators discovered malicious software on its computer network last week. Executives urged cardholders to closely examine their monthly credit and debit card statements and report any unauthorized charges to the issuers.

"Heartland apologizes for any inconvenience this situation has caused," Heartland President and CFO Robert H.B. Baldwin Jr. said in a statement. "Heartland is deeply committed to maintaining the security of cardholder data, and we will continue doing everything reasonably possible to achieve this objective."

Heartland called in auditors after people at Visa and MasterCard reported "suspicious activity surrounding processed card transactions." The company's statement provided few details about the breach, such as how long it lasted, what the malicious software did, or how it was able to penetrate the company's defenses. Baldwin told Bank Info Security the perpetrators "were grabbing numbers with sniffer malware as it went over our processing platform. Unfortunately, we are confident that card holder names and numbers were exposed."

The company has stressed that no merchant data, cardholder Social Security numbers, unencrypted personal identification numbers, addresses, or phone numbers were exposed during the breach.

The breach at Heartland is only the latest compromise of a major card handler that allows criminals wholesale access to cardholder data. Two years ago, TJX Companies, the mammoth retailer that operates TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and other US outlets, suffered a major security breach that exposed data for at least 94 million accounts. The company later fessed up that substandard security for its wireless networks allowed thieves entry into its network, where they remained for many months until their trespass was discovered.

More recently, online payments processor CheckFree lost control of its domain names in December in an attack that sent customers to servers run by a notorious crime gang believed to be based in Eastern Europe. The company has since warned more than 5 million people they may have been affected.

According to Bank Info Security, Heartland is the sixth-biggest payments processor in the US and handles 100 million transaction per month. The company said it is working with investigators from the US Secret Service. It has also set up a website called www.2008breach.com to provide additional information to affected cardholders. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
SMASH the Bash bug! Red Hat, Apple scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
Desperate VXers enslave FREEZERS in DDoS bot
Updated Spike malware targets Asia
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.