CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Organized Crime May Be Behind Massive Credit Card Breach

From  "The huge security breach that exposed more than 40 million credit cards to potential fraud appears to be the work of organized criminals, experts said Monday.  System vulnerabilities at CardSystems Solutions, a payment card processor, allowed an intruder to break into the network and access cardholder data, MasterCard International said Friday. The incident exposed more than 40 million cards of all brands to fraud, including 13.9 million MasterCard branded cards.  The breach represents a high-tech version of "skimming," in which criminals used a small device to snatch information from the magnetic strips on the back of credit cards, said Tom Kelly, a senior investigator at the private investigations division of Stroz Friedberg, a computer forensics and technical services firm.  Next-generation skimming involves attacking servers that process credit-card transactions, collecting account data and then selling that information to people who use it to create counterfeit cards or to make purchases, he said.  "This is very unique to crime groups in Eastern Europe," said Kelly, who has more than 25 years of investigating credit-card and fraud. "It has been going on for years. They're very well organized."  Taking advantage of the vast size of the credit-card breach would require the resources of organized crime, said Chris Noell, vice president of business development at managed security firm Solutionary."  [Mark Godsey]

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