Target Credit Card Breach: Positive Side is Increased Cybersecurity Dialogue
The massive Target security breach last December resulted in the largest theft of retail data ever in history, but is there a good side to it? One bank executive seems to think so and points to the increased awareness and vigor concerning cybersecurity.
Head of Wells Fargo Merchant Services Debra Rossi said at a payments conference panel Thursday in Las Vegas that the scope of the Target breach has helped pushed an increasingly vital issue -- cybersecurity -- to the front page.
"I hate to say it, but I was sort of happy for Target. I feel bad for them, but it got the industry moving on the consumer side and the merchant side," Rossi said candidly.
She added that merchant clients she deals with have changed their tune and that the entire industry, from banks to retailers to customers, are all "moving together" towards a common goal regarding the proper protection of personal digital information.
Politics has also taken a keener interest in cybersecurity and its protocols after the Target breach. Senate hearings concerning the heist have littered the early 2014 calendar, with retailers being called in to testify and government officials disapproving of the way the crisis was handled.
"Businesses should be required to provide prompt notice to consumers in the wake of a breach," Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman told a Senate Judiciary Committee in February. "American consumers should know when they are at risk of identify theft or other harms because of a data security breach."
"Never has the need for legislation been greater," Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Edith Ramirez said. "With reports of data breaches on the rise, and with a significant number of Americans suffering from identity theft, Congress needs to act. "
The Target security breach was first revealed in mid-December, although the actual heist itself took place during and soon after the busy Black Friday shopping spree at the end of November. Although investigations are still pending, data indicates that 110 million personal records were siphoned out of Target databases. Of the 110 million, 40 million were credit cards.
Since the Target debacle was uncovered, retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Michaels have also discovered they were cybercrime victims, although none of the other cases come close to the breadth of Target's situation.
Adding fuel to the fire, it was recently revealed that Target might have been able to stop the criminals from extracting the data from the No. 3 U.S. retailer. Warning flags were sent over to Target headquarters from security teams in Bangalore, India during the extraction process, but were ultimately ignored.
"The best technology in the world is useless unless there's good management," Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut said at a Senate hearing in March.
"And here, to be quite blunt, there were multiple warnings from the company's anti-intrusion software; they were missed by management."
Target has repeatedly apologized for the shaken consumer trust and has admitted that because the investigation into the breach is still ongoing, there lies a possibility the damage is worse than previously thought.