Heartland Breach is Costly

By: Absolute Team | 5/21/2009

Earlier this year, we posted about one of the largest data breaches to ever come to light: the Heartland Payment Systems breach that affected as many as 100 million people after their network was compromised. News this month indicates that the breach has cost the company $12.6 million in legal costs and fines from MasterCard and Visa.

In a conference call with investors, Heartland's CEO, Robert Carr, shared the financial damage that was the result of the Q1 breach. They say that of the $12.6 million charge, less than $1 million is related to fines by Visa, but more than 50% of the cost is associated with a fine from MasterCard. The company is contesting the fines, which allege a failure by Heartland to take appropriate action upon learning of the network compromise.

Carr has been frank about talking about the data breach, and lays some blame on the payment industry itself for not having stringent enough best practices. Though I think it's great that Heartland is encouraging new best practices, those best practices are a baseline of efforts in any industry. Companies should always be considering their particular risk factors and taking any added measures necessary to mitigate those.

Heartland was recently re-certified as PCI DSS compliant by Visa, MasterCard and Discover. However, much damage has been done to their reputation and, fines aside, the costs of this breach have been severe.

Financial Services