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Heartland data breach proves companies need to secure on all fronts

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The Heartland incident is a worrying case for companies who are following compliance initiatives.


Bradley Anstis, director of technology strategy at Marshal8e6, claimed that the interception was likely to be a targeted malware attack designed to bypass the standard commercial anti-virus solutions used by the company.


He also claimed that despite Heartland being PCI DSS compliant, cybercriminals were still able to steal millions of credit card details. He said: “The really worrying aspect was the length of time that the system was compromised without the breach being detected and the fact that Heartland had ticked all the boxes of the PCI DSS compliance list.


“We are seeing more and more instances of IT staff relying on their AV and not being aware that their computers have been compromised with spyware or other malware.


“Today's widely accepted methods of signature-based malware detection are simply not going to catch targeted spyware because the AV companies won't be familiar with its signature. Companies should also look to emerging technology like behaviour-based malware analysis which would have caught this malware”


Meanwhile, Paul Davie, founder and chief operating officer of Secerno, claimed that the news on Heartland would make pleasant reading for TJ Maxx, as it has “the prospect of the security world switching its byword for a huge breach from ‘TJX' to ‘Heartland' at the same time as they get publicity for a 15 per cent sale.”


Davie said: “It seems their not-at-all-jealously-guarded record may well have been taken from them in the same week, with the colossal breach at Heartland Payment Systems, whose attempt at news management seems to have backfired. They have been castigated widely not only for the breach, but for their crass attempt to bury the news in Inauguration Day.


“But what does this tell us about lessons learned in IT security? Two years on from the TJX breach, an even bigger incident, sounding remarkably similar in nature from initial reports, hits the headlines. Both firms promised to invest heavily in new security straight after the event. Isn't it time for increased corporate accountability? And isn't PCI supposed to ensure we avoid events such as these?”

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