Suspects charged in relation to largest credit card data theft in Australian history

Seven people have been charged in Romania in relation to a massive security breach which resulted in the largest credit card data theft in the history of Australia.

The criminals in question purportedly had access to the details of approximately 500,000 Australian credit cards, which were being used for fraudulent transactions to the combined value of more than $30 million.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have been investigating the incident for nearly 18 months, having been initially tipped off by a financial institution which detected unusual activity on some of its customer's credit cards.

Since then, the AFP has been working in co-operation with law enforcement agencies overseas, including the Romanian National Police, in order to track down the suspects.

While all affected customers have since had any related financial losses reimbursed to them, the incident still stands as an important reminder of the value of vulnerability management and ensuring best practice adherence when dealing with credit card information.

Abacus Australian Mutuals chief executive officer Louise Petschler has highlighted this fact, emphasising that every party involved in credit and debit card processing has a part to play in ensuring the safety of Australian consumers.

"It underlines how a coordinated approach by law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, merchants and consumers can help fight card fraud," said Ms Petschler in a statement released November 28.

AFP manager for Cyber Crime Operations commander Glen McEwen has also taken the time to remind people how they can ensure their credit card data remains safe at all times.

"Policing is only one part of the solution to stop data compromises – credit cards should be kept in a secure place, ATMS should be checked for any unusual attachments, personal details including PIN numbers should be protected, financial statements should be checked continuously, mail boxes should be secured and if possible, 'chip and pin' security implemented on credit cards," said Mr McEwen.

If you are an organisation who accepts or processes payment card information in any way, it is also important that you are doing your part to help prevent future incidents of this scale.

The best way to do this is by ensuring full compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which is a set of best practice guidelines designed to ensure retailers are safely managing consumer debit and credit card information.

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