Heartland Hacked

Published in CSP Daily News

No merchant information, cardholder Social Security numbers compromised

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Payments processor Heartland Payment Systems has learned it was the victim of a security breach within its processing system in 2008. The firm said that it believes the intrusion is contained. "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 COO. "We understand that this incident may be the result of a widespread global cyber fraud operation, and we are cooperating closely with the U.S. Secret Service and Department of Justice."[image-nocss]

Heartland provides solutions to demanding markets such as pay-at-the-pump gas stations, parking lots, retail, restaurants, school campuses, hospitality businesses, and community banks. The company has also been effective in servicing auto repair facilities, convenience and liquor stores, and professional service providers.

No merchant data or cardholder Social Security numbers, unencrypted personal identification numbers (PIN), addresses or telephone numbers were involved in the breach. Nor were any of Heartland's check management systems; Canadian, payroll, campus solutions or micropayments operations; Give Something Back Network; or the recently acquired Network Services and Chockstone processing platforms.

After being alerted by Visa and MasterCard of suspicious activity surrounding processed card transactions, Heartland enlisted the help of several forensic auditors to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter. Last week, the investigation uncovered malicious software that compromised data that crossed Heartland's network.

Heartland immediately took a number of steps to further secure its systems, it said. In addition, Heartland said that it will implement a next-generation program designed to flag network anomalies in real-time and enable law enforcement to expeditiously apprehend cyber criminals.

Heartland has created a website, www.2008breach.com, to provide information about this incident and advises cardholders to examine their monthly statements closely and report any suspicious activity to their card issuers. Cardholders are not responsible for unauthorized fraudulent charges made by third parties.

"Heartland apologizes for any inconvenience this situation has caused," said Baldwin. "Heartland is deeply committed to maintaining the security of cardholder data, and we will continue doing everything reasonably possible to achieve this objective."

Princeton, N.J.-based Heartland delivers credit/debit/prepaid card processing, payroll, check management and payments solutions to more than 250,000 business locations nationwide.
Heartland is the founding supporter of The Merchant Bill of Rights, a public advocacy initiative that educates merchants about fair credit and debit card processing practices.