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Heartland data breach hit 160 banks (and rising)

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More than 160 banks have been affected by the information security breach at US payment processor Heartland Security.

Heartland admitted that on 20 January, while US attention was on the Obama presidential inauguration, that a breach in its processing systems last year led to the disclosure of an unspecified number of customer records.

Malware planted on servers was used to steal card data. It didn't say how many records were exposed and how many financial institutions were affected by the breach. Heartland only said that it processed 100m transactions a month on behalf of 250,000 merchants, sparking concerns that the extent of the problem might rival that of the infamous TJX breach.

The number of banks notifying customers about the Heartland breach is growing longer every day. They now include financial institutions across the US as well as Canada, Bermuda, and Guam, according to the BankInfoSecurity.com news portal. Its latest count estimates that 160 banks have informed their customers about the breach.

The list compiled by BankInfoSecurity.com mostly consists of smaller banks, though some larger names are included. Card details exposed by the breach range from 16 (in the case of Valley Bank & Trust of Nebraska) to 75,000 (for Trustmark National Bank).

This may just be the beginning. In an informal survey by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) association after the breach, 83 per cent of the 512 organisations that responded said that some of their customer debit or credit details were among those exposed by the breach. ®

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