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August 18, 2009

Hacker indicted in Hannaford security breach

A Florida man and former informant for the U.S. Secret Service has been indicted on charges related to the Hannaford security breach, which exposed millions of the grocery store's customers' credit and debit card numbers to identify theft.

Albert Gonzalez, 28, of Miami, has been charged with conspiring to hack into the computer networks of major American retailers and financial firms, stealing data from 130 million cards in the country's largest credit and debit card breach, the Portland Press Herald reported. Two unnamed people living "in or near Russia" were also indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark, N.J., the paper reported.

Besides Hannaford Brothers Co., the corporate victims were Heartland Payment Systems, a New Jersey-based card payment processor, and 7-Eleven Inc., as well as two unidentified major national retailers. Hannaford reported in March 2008 that an estimated 4.2 million card numbers belonging to its customers had been stolen between Dec. 7, 2007, and March 10, 2008.

Gonzalez, in his former job as a government informant, helped track down hackers until officials discovered he had been leaking information to criminals about ongoing investigations, the paper said. Gonzalez, who is in federal custody in New York, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted and $500,000 in fines.

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