TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: MasterCard Says 40 Million Files Put at Risk

MasterCard Says 40 Million Files Put at Risk

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 18 Jun 2005 23:29:49 -0400

June 18, 2005

MasterCard International reported yesterday that more than 40 million
credit card accounts of all brands might have been exposed to fraud
through a computer security breach at a payment processing company,
perhaps the largest case of stolen consumer data to date.

MasterCard said its analysts and law enforcement officials had
identified a pattern of fraudulent charges that were traced to an
intrusion at CardSystems Solutions of Tucson, Ariz., which processes
more than $15 billion in payments for small to midsize merchants and
financial institutions each year.

About 20 million Visa and 13.9 million MasterCard accounts were
compromised; the other accounts belonged to American Express or
Discover cardholders. The accounts affected included credit cards and
certain kinds of debit cards. The F.B.I. said it was investigating.

A MasterCard spokeswoman, Sharon Gamsin, said an infiltrator had
managed to place a computer code or script on the CardSystems network
that made it possible to extract information. She would not elaborate
on how long the breach might have lasted, on when the inquiry began
or on whether any infiltrators had been identified. She did say that
the breach occurred this year.

Deborah McCarley, a spokeswoman for the F.B.I. field office in
Phoenix, said that her agency was trying to establish the scope of
the breach and that "the investigation is just beginning."

MasterCard said its investigation found that CardSystems, in
violation of MasterCard's rules, was storing cardholders' account
numbers and security codes on its computer systems. That information,
MasterCard said, was supposed to be transferred to the bank handling
the merchants' transactions but not retained by CardSystems.

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