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Card Stealers

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The government has finally put a face on several recent data theft crimes that potentially affected more than 170 credit and debit cards. It is the largest alleged credit and debit card data breach ever charged in the U.S. Following an investigation by U.S. Secret Service, Albert Gonzales of Miami, along with two Russian co-conspirators were indicted for conspiring to hack into computer networks supporting major American retail and financial organizations, and stealing data relating to more than 130 million credit and debit cards. Among the corporate victims named in the indictment are Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven, and the Hannaford Brothers supermarket chain. The DOJ says alleges that beginning in October 2006, Gonzales and his unnamed co-conspirators researched the credit and debit card systems used by their victims; devised a “SQL Injection Attack” to penetrate their networks and steal credit and debit card data; and then sent that data to computer servers they operated in California, Illinois, Latvia, the Netherlands and Ukraine. In May 2008, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Gonzales for his alleged role in the hacking of a computer network run by a national restaurant chain. In August of 2008, the Justice Department announced an additional series of indictments against Gonzales and others for a number of retail hacks affecting eight major retailers and involving the theft of data related to 40 million credit cards.

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