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Heartland to pay Amex $3.6m for massive payment breach

Thanks, 'Segvec'

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Heartland Payment Systems will pay American Express $3.6m to settle claims related to the criminal breach of its payment processing network last year.

It's the first settlement Heartland has reached relating to the hacking of its network, which the processor disclosed in January. There's no indication disputes with other card brands such as Visa and MasterCard have been resolved, although Heartland has had to pay fines assessed by them. Heartland has set aside $12.6m to compensate card companies for the breach.

The fees underscore the costs associated when data for large numbers of payment cards fall into the hands of criminals. Brands typically must respond by reissuing cards for millions of customers at considerable expense.

Albert "Segvec" Gonzalez, a former US government informer and prolific hacker, has agreed to plead guilty to participating in the Heartland breach. He and other hackers are accused of breaking into several other payment networks, in part by exploiting garden-variety SQL injection vulnerabilities on the their websites. In all, they made off with more than 130 million credit card numbers.

"We are pleased to have reached an equitable settlement with American Express," Heartland CEO Bob Carr said in a statement. ®

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