May Have A New Winner In The Largest Security Breach Ever Department

from the and-it-will-get-larger,-I'm-sure dept

In the past, we’ve joked about how with pretty much every security breach, there’s an initial estimate of the damage done, followed much later by a second report that admits the breach impacted many more people. It happened with the VA. It happened with Choicepoint. And, it happened with TJX, who raised the bar on being the worst security breach ever not once, but twice to impact nearly 94 million people. Who could top that?

Step up to bat, Heartland Payment Systems. Chris writes in to point out that Heartland appears to have picked a pretty good day to announce a security breach that may impact over 100 million people. Everyone’s off paying attention to the inauguration, so they might miss the news as it comes out today — but they’re likely to hear about it soon enough. It appears that Heartland’s own computers were infected with malware which passed on information about transactions to some scammers.

Heartland is now claiming that this really isn’t that big a deal, because personal information wasn’t included in the breach — meaning the data was useful for creating new cards with bogus data, but not useful for “card not present” transactions such as internet transactions or creating fake cards of real people. Because of this, Heartland doesn’t think that it should need to offer credit monitoring services to impacted users, which has become the somewhat standard penance for those caught leaking credit card info.

Of course, some are already questioning the timing of announcing the breach. Considering they figured out what happened a week ago, it does seem a bit of interesting timing to wait until the inauguration was underway to disclose this information.

Still, given the history of so many earlier breaches turning out to be much worse later on, what’s the over-under on the next announcement about how much worse this breach actually was?

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Companies: heartland payment systems

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Comments on “May Have A New Winner In The Largest Security Breach Ever Department”

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15 Comments
Another Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Contest?

I worked as a sr. manager and exec. at a place that had a couple major intrusions. The big problem is that the top end business guys see security as a soft cost and they prefer to the dice rather than spend the money on security and proper processes. It’s the ISO’s who get canned as the scapegoats anyway.

Only when the business guys will feel the pain (i.e., serious bottom line or personal liability), will this get any better. Lawsuits are not putting enough pressure on companies to do better, given the difficulty in proving that someone’s fraud is related to a particular intrusion.

Right now our only safety is in numbers.

Another Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Contest?

I worked as a sr. manager and exec. at a place that had a couple major intrusions. The big problem is that the top end business guys see security as a soft cost and they prefer to roll the dice rather than spend the money on security and proper processes. It’s the ISO’s who get canned as the scapegoats anyway.

Only when the business guys will feel the pain (i.e., serious bottom line or personal liability), will this get any better. Lawsuits are not putting enough pressure on companies to do better, given the difficulty in proving that someone’s fraud is related to a particular intrusion.

Right now our only safety is in numbers.

brwyatt says:

No one ever thinks....

This only happens because no one thinks that it can/will happen to them. Everyone feels that only the basics are enough.

Heck, my bank password is my least secure password because the force you to use the minimum. Your password must be no longer than 8 characters, and must include both letters and numbers. When most of my passwords are >20 characters, I ask you: would you rather hack my online banking? or my email account?

Legal requirements are NOT enough. These companies should be forcing AT LEAST >12 characters, heck, >20. TrueCrypt will let you use

NotBob says:

Re: No one ever thinks....

That’s kind of interesting. I bank at a local bank, not one of the big ones. I was going to say one of the big five but are there even five? But I digress… Not only do I have to have my password, I have to answer a self-chosen security question, and I have to have a pass phrase and a graphic that match what I set up. Sadly, all that security gets annoying, even when I know it’s for my personal benefit.

Zaphod (user link) says:

Hmm, so having the number on the card in your hand lets you use it?

Normally, I don’t go for religious diatribe, but…

What if the mark of the beast is holding the credit card in your hand? As the article states: “but not useful for “card not present” transactions such as internet transactions”

Now reread Revelation 13:17-18…

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

Spooky familiar no?

P.S. Nope, normally I wouldn’t bring up religion here, and haven’t, but this just kinda jumped out at me.

marquisem says:

it's very simple

Real life is not Law and Order, CSI or the Mentalist. Forensics, including data forensics, take time. When a company realizes they have a breach, they don’t instantly (or even in an hour) know the full extent. As they do more in-depth research, they get the full picture. You can get quick information or you can get accurate information.

For that matter incident management, building a PR effort and putting resources in place to manage the questions from media and consumers also aren’t instant activities.

And no, I don’t work for TJX, Choicepoint or Heartland.

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