Attacks/Breaches
1/20/2009
05:08 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Heartland Payment Systems Hit By Data Security Breach

The systems penetrated by a malicious keylogger could result in a data breach that rivals the parent company of TJ Maxx in 2007.

Heartland Payment Systems, a leading payment processing company, reported on Tuesday that its systems had been compromised by malware in 2008.

The data breach could turn out to rival the massive breach reported by TJX in 2007, which affected as many as 94 million credit card accounts. Heartland handles 100 million transactions per month for more than 250,000 businesses. But the company isn't yet ready to disclose the number of credit card accounts affected.

"We found evidence of an intrusion last week and immediately notified federal law enforcement officials as well as the card brands," said Robert H.B. Baldwin Jr., Heartland's president and CFO, in a statement. "We understand that this incident may be the result of a widespread global cyberfraud operation, and we are cooperating closely with the United States Secret Service and Department of Justice."

Heartland was alerted to the breach by reports of suspicious transactions from Visa and MasterCard.

In a phone interview, Baldwin said that the bulk of the exposed data consisted of credit card numbers and expiration dates, and that a subset of the exposed data also included credit card names.

Baldwin said his company couldn't yet reveal an accurate number of exposed accounts. "There are some numbers flying around now that aren't based on any discussion that Heartland has had with anyone," he said. "They are speculation. ...We just discovered this last week. We have been working around the clock to get data out to the public because it's consequential and we think it's important to be transparent on this."

In its statement about the breach, Heartland said that no merchant data, cardholder Social Security numbers, unencrypted personal identification numbers (PIN), addresses, or telephone numbers were exposed.

Baldwin said his company wasn't yet ready to disclose the dates when its network was exposed. "We can say, however, that this is fully contained," he said. "That is both our view and the view of the forensic auditors we brought in to work on this issue."

Baldwin said that the breach was the result of keylogging malware, which covertly captures anything typed on an infected computer, such as user names and passwords.

"There were two elements to it, one of which was a keylogger that got through our firewall," he said. "Then subsequently it was able to propagate a sniffer onto some of the machines in our network. And those are what was actually grabbing the transactions as they floated over our network."

A sniffer is similar in concept to a keylogger, but rather than merely capturing keystrokes, a sniffer captures entire data packets on a network.

Asked whether the data was read remotely from a locally stored file or transmitted to an external site, Baldwin said, "We don't know in what way there was egress or to what extent," he said. "And that's one of the frustrating things about this. We know that a lot of transactions go across our network; we don't know the percentage of transactions that the sniffer was able to grab. And we don't know the percentage of those that the bad guys were able to access."

He added that while investigators considered the possibility that an insider might have been involved, there was no information that suggested any insider involvement.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
DNS Threats: What Every Enterprise Should Know
Domain Name System exploits could put your data at risk. Here's some advice on how to avoid them.
Flash Poll
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7445
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

CVE-2015-4948
Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5660
Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

CVE-2015-6003
Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

CVE-2015-6333
Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio

The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.