Courtesy of Norm Betts/Bloomberg MasterCard and Visa alerted customers March 30, 2012, about a possible security breach at an Atlanta-based payment processing company. On April 2, Global Payments, the credit card processor said Visa had dropped it from the credit card company’s list of providers that met security standards following the incident, the Associated Press reported. Global Payments said that the breach may affect up to 1.5 million credit cards. Courtesy of Norm Betts/Bloomberg

Major U.S. banks have turned to the National Security Agency for help protecting their computer systems after a barrage of assaults that have disrupted their websites, according to industry officials.

The attacks on the sites, which started about a year ago but intensified this past September, have grown increasingly sophisticated, officials said. The NSA has been asked to provide technical assistance to help banks further assess their systems and to better understand the attackers’ tactics.

The cooperation between the NSA and banks, industry officials say, underscores the government’s fears about the unprecedented assault against the financial sector, and is part of a broader effort by the government to work with U.S. firms on cybersecurity. Nonetheless, the assistance is likely to dismay privacy advocates, who say that the world’s largest electronic spying agency has no business peering inside private companies’ systems, even if for the strict purpose of improving computer security.

Banks Seek NSA Help Amid Computer System Attacks | DFI News.

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