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Risk

1/28/2009
06:13 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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The Inevitable Has Occurred: Heartland Payment Sued

The payment processor Heartland Payment Systems just got served with a lawsuit over the allegedly massive data breach.

The payment processor Heartland Payment Systems just got served with a lawsuit over the allegedly massive data breach.According to this news story by Robert Westervelt at SearchSecurity.com, a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey:

It was filed on behalf of Alicia Cooper, a resident of Woodbury, Minn. The law firm says Heartland does not appear to be offering any credit-monitoring services or other relief to credit card holders affected by the breach.

"In addition to the questionable timing of this disclosure, there are materially misleading statements and omissions contained in Heartland's public description of the breach and its consequences," according to the complaint filed by the law firm.

This was inevitable. The suit seeks to become a class action. It seems Cooper also wants to know the names of the affected merchants. The story also mentioned that the suit claims that Heartland Payment Systems wasn't compliant to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

The funny thing is, I'm not sure what the relevance would be of releasing the names of the affected merchants: they may not have been breached at all. Also, it's not clear to me if Heartland was negligent when it actually learned of the breach, and the company claims to have been PCI compliant at the time of the breach. If this makes it to court, we just may find out.

The strange thing about these events is that a company that tries to do everything right, and takes reasonable approaches to security, can be breached. Perhaps that is what happened in this case.

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