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Visa dumps Global Payments after it flashed 1.5m US card numbers

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Visa has dropped Global Payments from its list of approved service providers after a security breach at the firm exposed 1.5 million US card numbers.

The world's largest credit and debit card company has booted Global Payments off its list because of the "unauthorised access into a portion of [its] processing system". Global can't get back on Visa's nice list until it has revalidated its compliance processes with the payment card industry's data security standard (PCI DSS).

"It’s essential that every business that handles payment card information adhere to the highest standards to protect the security and privacy of cardholder information and remain vigilant over time," Visa said in an emailed statement.

"Validation is typically an annual process whereas actually being PCI DSS compliant is an ongoing responsibility. The PCI DSS remains an effective security tool when implemented properly – and remains the best defence for businesses against the loss of sensitive data."

Global Payments reported on Friday that it had sniffed out unauthorised access into its systems and said today that its investigation so far showed the breach had only slurped so-called Track 2 card data only, leaving cardholder names, addresses and social security numbers out of the hackers' reach.

"I am pleased to inform you we are making significant progress in defining and rectifying the breach," CEO Paul Garcia said in a conference call. "Based on forensic analysis to date, network monitoring and additional security measures, we believe that this incident is contained."

Garcia said that "on reflection, it was not unexpected" that Visa would dump it from its approved provider list.

"You are compliant, and then if something [like this] happens, by definition you're not.

"We are focused on the remediation measures necessary for a full and timely PCI reinstatement," he said, adding that the firm couldn't put any timeline on how long it would take to be compliant again.

Global Payments said that as far as it knew, there had been no fraudulent transactions reported on any credit cards, but it advised consumers to monitor their bills and make sure all their purchases were legitimate.

Garcia also said that there had been a lot of misinformation about the state of Global Payments' security. He denied reports that there had been another data breach last year, saying that this intrusion was the first.

He said that Global Payments had detected the possibility that data might have been taken three weeks ago and "within hours" it had informed the authorities and card companies. ®

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