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    Washington Post: Security breach may have compromised millions of debit and credit cards

    The Washington Post reports on a security breach that may affect the financial data of millions of users with credit and debit cards from Visa and Mastercard:

    Visa and MasterCard on Friday were trying to determine the extent of a possible security breach at a third-party vendor that experts say could compromise the credit-card and debit-card information of millions of Americans.

    The two companies say they have notified law enforcement officials and alerted banks about the potential data theft, even as they seek to assure customers that their own systems had not been breached. […]

    The security lapse involved Global Payments, an Atlanta-based firm that describes itself as “one of the world’s largest electronic transaction processing companies.”

    In a statement Friday afternoon, Global Payments said it had determined in early March that “card data may have been accessed.” It said that company officials immediately contacted federal law enforcement, brought in information technology forensics experts to investigate and notified “appropriate industry parties to allow them to minimize potential cardholder impact.” […]

    MasterCard said in a statement that its “own systems have not been compromised.” Visa officials also insisted that there had been “no breach of Visa systems” and that it had contacted card issuers with details about accounts that might have been compromised “so they can take steps to protect consumers through independent fraud monitoring and, if needed, reissuing cards.” […]

    Brian Krebs, a computer security expert who first reported the theft on his blog KrebsonSecurity.com, wrote that sources in the financial sector had described the data theft to him as “massive” and believed it could involve more than 10 million compromised card numbers. […]

    The latest incident is part of an ongoing string of electronic attacks against corporations, schools and government agencies that have repeatedly put the confidential information of Americans at risk. Last June, for instance, hackers breached a network at Citigroup and gained access to credit card data for more than 360,000 North American customers.

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