Sunday, June 19, 2005

MasterCard Int’l hacker breached security system

NEW YORK - A security breach at a processor used by MasterCard International may have exposed more than 40 million customers to fraud, the credit-card giant announced Friday.

The case was the latest and largest in a series of security breaches of customer data that open up the possibility of identity theft. One group monitoring such breaches said 10 million US consumers may have been affected this year before the latest incident.

MasterCard said its security experts identified that the breach occurred at Arizona-based CardSystems Solutions, a third-party processor of payment card data used by MasterCard and other branded credit cards.

The breach occurred when "an unauthorized individual" was able to infiltrate the network, MasterCard said in a statement without elaborating.

The credit card firm said the breach "potentially exposed more than 40 million cards of all brands to fraud, of which approximately 13.9 million are MasterCard-branded cards."

MasterCard said it was notifying participating banks and customers about the breach.

"Through the use of MasterCard fraud-fighting tools that proactively monitor for fraud, MasterCard was able to identify the processor that was breached," the company said in a statement.

"Working with all parties, including issuing banks, acquiring banks, the processor and law enforcement, MasterCard immediately launched an investigation into the breach, and worked with CardSystems to remediate the security vulnerabilities in the processor’s systems."

In other recent incidents, Citigroup said last week it lost computer tapes containing personal banking data on 3.9 million customers.

Last month, police said arrests had been made in the theft of data of more than 700,000 account holders held in four major US banks.

That case involved customer records from Bank of America, the second-largest US bank in terms of assets, Wachovia Corp., Commerce Bancorp and PNC Financial Services Group Inc. AFP

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