Days before the Heartland Data Breach was announced, volunteer computer security experts at the Open Security Foundation had already figured out what had occurred. Many believe Heartland is going to become the largest data breach in history and will surpass the TJX caper. At this point, only time will tell.
Now the folks at the Open Security Foundation are predicting another data breach at a card processor/acquirer that hasn't been announced to the public yet. For over a week, they've been speculating about this mysterious data breach based on a tip, which was corroborated by other anonymous sources.
According to their latest post on this matter, they knew at the time it was a "card not present" breach at an acquirer/processor, but couldn't publish that it was. They are now reporting this based on it being revealed by another source.
The only data elements at risk are account numbers and expiration dates. No track data, PIN, CVV2/CVC2 data or cardholder-identifying information was captured. The period of exposure being reported is from February to August of 2008.
It has also been written that the exposure was enabled by malicious software that was placed on the unknown acquirer/processor's system. Both of the credit union sources also state that it is being left up to the card issuers, whether to issue new cards or monitor the accounts for fraud. Reissuing cards has become a major expense to the card issuers after a data breach is discovered.
This makes me wonder if we will discover that the acquirer/processor was PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) compliant? PCI DSS is the payment card industry's own set of standards to protect data. In many of the recent breaches, the "breached" met this standard, which has led to questions as to whether it is really effective or not.
Both articles also indicate that Visa/Mastercard are not revealing the source of this breach until the "mysterious source" of it makes their own announcement on the matter.
Given these reports, my speculation is that this information could be used in e-commerce type transactions. If only primary account information and expiration dates were exposed — counterfeiting it on cloned cards is unlikely. It simply wouldn't be feasible to do so by the criminals involved.