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Huge US data breach spreads to Japan, HK
Latest Updated by 2005-06-22 09:45:48

RECRIMINATIONS flew over the biggest data breach in U.S. history as the theft of private information on more than 40 million credit card holders spread to Japan and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Calls mounted for government intervention after an Arizona processing company at the centre of the breach, CardSystems Solutions, admitted it had retained information on Visa and MasterCard customers improperly.

Some 22 million affected customers are Visa holders and nearly 14 million are with MasterCard, according to company figures. American Express and Discover holders were also hit, but in far smaller numbers.

CardSystems chief John Perry told the New York Times that information on 40 million customers had been compromised, and data on about 200,000 had actually been stolen.

He said the data had been retained by his company for research purposes even after transactions were completed, contrary to rules set by Visa and MasterCard.

"We should not have been doing that," he said. But with regard to the sensitive data, "we no longer store it on files", he said.

MasterCard and Visa said CardSystems had flouted their security strictures, but played down the risk to consumers.

In Australia, about 50,000 Mastercard and another 77,000 Visa card holders are believed to have been at risk, ABC radio reported Tuesday.

However, the banks issuing the cards said that most of those affected have already been issued with replacements after irregular transactions were picked up as early as last December.

In Japan on Monday, financial company UFJ Card Co. said some of its credit card holders had fallen victim to illegal transactions ensuing from the data theft.

Other Japanese credit card firms linked to MasterCard, including issuers of Nippon Shinpan, DC Card, OMC Card, UC Card and NICOS Card, also reported that their customer information might have been leaked because of the breach.

In Hong Kong, Standard Chartered, HSBC, Bank of China, Hang Seng Bank and Bank of East Asia said Visa and MasterCard had informed them that private information on a "small number" of their customers had been leaked.

MasterCard said Friday the breach occurred when "an unauthorized individual" infiltrated the CardSystems network. CardSystems said it had informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation on May 23 of a potential security problem.

Editor: Wing

By: Source:Szdaily web edition
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