The Largest Data Pilferage in History
In January, 2009, Heartland Payment Systems, one of the biggest payments processors in the US, suffered an intrusion into their systems. It was estimated that 100 million credit and debit cards from more than 650 financial services companies may have been compromised.
Such an intrusion would be a nightmare for most companies, but for a payment services company it is catastrophic. People rely on payment processors to keep their information secure and breaches like that can cost the confidence of the customers and the public, leading to a potentially massive loss of business. Normally companies try to keep it quiet, other than the mandatory reporting to law enforcement agencies and regulators.
Heartland handled it differently. They went public and sought to re-organize their industry to combat the crime groups that perpetuate such frauds and ultimately cost the end customers - the people - a lot of money.
They still have lawsuits to handle, and have implemented tighter encryption standards, but they did something that will benefit people down the road - launched a strong countervailing force against cybercrime. A report on their story is on Businessweek.