Heartland Payment Systems, a publicly traded company that provides bank card payment processing services to merchants in the U.S., has suffered a malware breach that may be linked to a "widespread global cyber fraud operation."
In a statement (see Adam O'Donnell's coverage), the company said its system used to process Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover Card transactions was breached last year but insists that customer and merchant data was not affected. From the statement:
"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 chief financial officer. "We understand that this incident may be the result of a widespread global cyber fraud operation, and we are cooperating closely with the United States Secret Service and Department of Justice."
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.
The mention of a "widespread global cyber fraud operation" suggests that investigators may have a link to previous breaches at Hannaford and TJX and confirms widely held beliefs that malware authors are using specialized attacks to hit high-profile payment systems targets.
See more from Brian Krebs at WaPo's SecurityFix.