Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
AOL Tech

Millions of Credit Card Numbers Nabbed in Payment System Breach

It wasn't all that long ago that grocery shoppers at Hannaford were sent reeling with the news that their credit cards had been nabbed by hackers -- 4.2 million credit card numbers were stolen in total. If that was you, chances are you still haven't memorized your new credit card number, and that's just as well because you may need yet another one, as another breach has been identified -- one that may cover hundreds of millions of credit card users.

St. Louis-based Heartland Payment announced yesterday that hackers gained access to the machines it uses to process roughly 100 million credit card transactions every month. The company handles transactions for 175,000 separate businesses and bills itself as having "the highest standards" and "the most trusted transactions." Despite that, the company has no idea how long its systems were being monitored, saying only that it was "longer than weeks."

Because of this nobody knows just how many cards were compromised, but given the sheer volume of cards that are processed, many are already calling this the largest data breach in history. Until they're able to figure out just who was affected, Mastercard and Visa are now warning all cardholders and banks to watch out for suspicious activity, even if they may not have been affected.

If there's some good news it's that only credit card numbers were nabbed, not addresses, so exposure should be somewhat limited. But regardless, the cost of sending millions of letters and millions of replacement cards will surely be massive, and given current economic conditions we're not sure just where all that money will come from. [From: USA Today]

Seven Security Breaches

    45 Million Card Numbers Stolen from TJ Maxx and Marshall's
    TJX Companies Inc., the umbrella corporation of TJ Maxx and Marshall's, was taken for over 45 million card numbers between 2004 and 2007. So much for those alleged TJ Maxx bargains.

    Thieves Snag 4.2 Million Credit Card Numbers from Supermarket Chain
    Sometime between December, 2007 and February, 2008, data thieves -- infiltrating the credit card authorization system of Hannaford Brothers and Sweetbay grocery stores -- managed to obtain the information of 4.2 million cards. Close to 2,000 cases of fraud were reported.

    17 New Yorkers Busted for ID Theft and Money Laundering
    Back in 2007, the New York-based company Western Express International was found to be a powerful credit-card harvesting operation, responsible for trafficking 95,000 stolen card numbers. Seventeen employees were indicted.

    More Than Four Million Health Records Breached in 2008
    According to research firm DataLoss DB, 4.07 million individuals had their healthcare records compromised last year. We know at least two of them belonged to Britney Spears and Farrah Fawcett, and were sold by a California hospital worker.

    CardSystems Solutions Taken for 40 Million Accounts
    Having snuck past the security systems of CardSystems Solutions, data thieves compromised around 40 million card accounts in 2005. No word on whether or not the company has considered changing the name to CardSystems Problems.

    Hackers Who Stole Credit Card Numbers from Dave & Buster's Arrested
    Last year, the Justice Department busted an international ring of hackers who had stolen an untold number of credit card numbers from the Dave & Buster's restaurant chain by installing software on the company's national servers. Reported losses were well in excess of $600,000.

    11 Arrested in Theft of 41 Million Credit Card Numbers
    In August of last year, Federal prosecutors charged 11 thieves in the U.S.A., former Soviet states and China with stealing 41 million credit cards' information. A Miami man, Albert Gonzalez, was charged as the group's mastermind.

Related Links:

Tags: credit card, credit cards, CreditCard, CreditCards, hack, hackers, heartland payment, HeartlandPayment, security, top