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Visa probes reported security breach of card processor

17,000 cards already blocked

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Credit card issuer company Visa is investigating the possible breach of a payment processor in Europe that may have compromised more than 10,000 cards in Eastern Europe.

In a statement issued on Thursday, according to IDG News, the issuer said: “Visa Europe has been informed of a potential data security breach at a European processor and an investigation is underway. We are working closely with our member banks to ensure cardholders are protected.”

The statement didn't name the processor or the country where it's located.

The statement came a day after a news article published by Romania Business Insider cited Visa Europe's general manager as saying Romania's CEC Bank blocked 17,000 payment cards because of suspicions they had been compromised.

A statement issued by CEC Bank, according to SC Magazine, said: “The bank has been informed that a number of cards issued by banks in Romania and abroad have been potentially compromised through an international database. CEC Bank has decided to block the cards and reissue a new card and PIN, at no cost, for a number of cards in its portfolio.”

The statement went on to say that the attack didn't target the bank's customers specifically and wasn't the result of any vulnerabilities inside the bank's system. The Romanian Association of Banks issued its own statement (PDF) that said multiple banks have been alerted to a potential security breach that may have exposed credit card data.

The potential breach of the processor comes almost three years after US-based processor Heartland Payment Systems disclosed a massive security breach that ultimately cost a whopping $105 million in fines and other expenses. Serial hacker Albert Gonzalez eventually pleaded guilty to masterminding the attack on Heartland and various other holders of payment information in a breach that compromised some 130 million cards.

Court documents later identified a garden-variety SQL-injection exploit as the entry point into Heartland's network. Last year, Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. ®

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