Possibly largest data privacy breach, ever

You might not have noticed, as the company involved decided to come clean on the day of the inauguration. Uh huh.

A data breach last year at Princeton, N.J., payment processor Heartland Payment Systems may have compromised tens of millions credit and debit card transactions, the company said today.

If accurate, such figures may make the Heartland incident one of the largest data breaches ever reported.

Robert Baldwin, Heartland’s president and chief financial officer, said the company, which processes payments for more than 250,000 businesses, began receiving fraudulent activity reports late last year from MasterCard and Visa on cards that had all been used at merchants which rely on Heartland to process payments.

Baldwin said 40 percent of transactions the company processes are from small to mid-sized restaurants across the country. He declined to name any well-known establishments or retail clients that may have been affected by the breach.

Baldwin said it would be unfair to mention any one of his company’s customers….

…Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst with Gartner Inc., questioned the timing of Heartland’s disclosure — a day in which many Americans and news outlets are glued to coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration as the nation’s 44th president.

“This looks like the biggest breach ever disclosed, and they’re doing it on inauguration day?” Litan said. “I can’t believe they waited until today to disclose. That seems very deceptive.”

Yeah, wouldn’t want to let people know that their credit card might have been compromised. That would be unfair to the guy who may have lost them.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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