Global Payments Inc. now confirms it is the source of the huge breach affecting cards carrying the major network brands (see story).

The Atlanta-based merchant processor said it determined in early March its card data may have been accessed. It then hired external experts in information technology forensics and contacted federal law enforcement.

The company said it notified industry parties to allow them to minimize potential cardholder impact and it is continuing its investigation.

"It is reassuring that our security processes detected an intrusion. It is crucial to understand that this incident does not involve our merchants or their relationships with their customers," said Global's CEO Paul Garcia.

Trading in the company's shares was halted this morning after the news of the breach and its potential ties to Global pushed the shares down 13%.

The breach, which happened between Jan. 21 and Feb. 25, may have exposed millions of Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards to compromise.

The U.S. Secret Service said this afternoon it is investigating the breach.

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