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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  1. identicon
    Another Anonymous Coward, 20 Jan 2009 @ 6:22pm

    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.

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