Heartland CEO: Credit Card Encryption Needed

Grant Gross of IDG News Service reports that in testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday, Heartland Payment Systems CEO Robert Carr was hit with a question about how the payment processor could have been breached for over one year and yet not detected it:

Senators asked Carr some pointed questions about the breach. Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, wanted to know how the company could be compromised from October 2006 to May 2008 without discovering the breach. “I was astounded at what a long period elapsed where these hackers were able to steal these credit card numbers,” she said. “Explain to me how a breach of that magnitude could go undetected for so long.”

Card holders were not reporting major breaches, Carr answered. “The way breaches are normally detected is that fraudulent uses of cards are determined,” he said. “There was no hint of fraudulent use of cards that came to our attention until toward the end of 2008.”

Collins pressed him further. “But are there no computer programs that one can use to check to see if an intrusion has occurred?” she asked.

“There are, and the cybercriminals are very good at masking themselves,” Carr said.

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