While the majority of American media is glued to the quadrennial spectacle that is the Presidential inauguration, Heartland Payment Systems has uncovered a piece of malware hidden in their payment processing system. This has apparently lead to what may be the largest data breach ever.
Hearland Payment Systems, a credit card payment processor, apparently chose the completely innocuous day of January 20th, 2009 to inform the world that a data breach occured, and that it did not affect any “merchant data or cardholder Social Security numbers, unencrypted PINs, addresses or telephone numbers”. What possibly was affected, however, was every credit card number that traversed their payment processing system.
Anyone who used a Visa or Mastercard at one of a quarter of a million businesses may have been affected. For the small number of you who fall into this category, I recommend going through your old credit card statements just in case you were one of the victims. In all honesty, the probability of any one person being victimized by this is pretty slim, but vigilance is never a bad thing.
Heartland has apologized for the incident, and has put up a website at 2008breach.com to communicate with the public about the issue.