Heartland Breach Hits 440 Banks, A Number That Is Still Climbing

Written by Evan Schuman
February 10th, 2009

The number of financial institutions hit by the data breach at Heartland Payment Systems is now 440 and still rapidly climbing, according to a Thursday (Feb. 12) report from Bank Info Security. Bermuda, Canada and Guam banks were added to the list Wednesday, the story said.

That story also pointed to a wonderful Web poll (so it’s constantly updated) being done at the Independent Community Bankers of America site. Such polls are notoriously suspect, because there’s no way to verify the accuracy of answers or even if the respondents are who they say they are. With that caveat, the polls on Tuesday (Feb. 10) night showed that 83 percent of banks said they had been affected by the Heartland breach, compared with 4 percent who said they hadn’t and 12 percent who said they “don’t know yet.” Even more interesting is that the numbers overwhelmingly pointed to debit—as opposed to credit—card issues. That 83 percent figure broke down to 60 percent saying debit cards were impacted, only 2 percent saying credit cards were impacted and 21 percent saying both credit and debit cards were impacted.


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Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

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