Card companies step up security

Credit card companies Visa International, MasterCard and American Express will beef up their security programs after reports of a substantial hacking breach. Visa says its eight million Australian cardholders were exposed when a hacker accessed credit card details of a US online merchant recently, but as yet it's unclear how many customers have been affected. The company assured its Australian customers that they won't be held liable for any fraudulent usage of their cards.

Visa will launch its Verified by Visa program and is issuing a security standard for online merchants. MasterCard will start a pilot program with the banks for a data protection standard for merchants' online sites and will roll out its SecureCode program in April.