20 June 2005 More than 40 million credit card customers are at risk of having their accounts violated after hackers were able to gain access to sensitive computer systems at a payment processing company.
Computer systems at CardSystems’ payment processing offices in Atlanta were infiltrated, as a hacker used security vulnerabilities to gain access to CardSystems’ networks and access credit card details.
The security breach may have allowed access to the details of approximately 13.9 million MasterCard customers, as well as Visa, Discover and American Express customers. In total up to 40 million customers could be affected.
In a statement CardSystems said: “We understand and fully appreciate the seriousness of the situation. Our customers and their customers are our lifeblood. We are sparing no effort to get to the bottom of this matter. Our goal is to cooperate fully with the FBI to complete the investigation and ensure that we do nothing that might compromise the investigation.”
The computer systems that were breached were using customer data to carry out research. The company has acknowledged that it should not have been keeping data.
The hacker gained access to account holders’ names, account numbers and verification codes, but customers have been reassured that even more highly sensitive information, such as dates of birth or social security numbers, was not stored on the systems.
MasterCard said it immediately notified its customer banks of specific accounts that may have been affected and highlighted the fact that customers receive protection against unauthorised charges.