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Target Data Breach Pits Banks Against Retailers
Target Data Breach Pits Banks Against Retailers

 
February 7, 2014 9:34AM

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The Target theft could prove to be the biggest data breach on record for a U.S. retailer. Now, retailers and banks are pointing fingers at each other. Retailers say banks must upgrade the security technology for the credit and debit cards they issue. Banks say newer electronic-chip technology wouldn't have prevented the Target breach.
 


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In the middle are American consumers, many of whom say they're alarmed about the safety of their personal information since the Target breach. In an Associated Press-GfK poll conducted Jan. 17-21, nearly half of those surveyed said they've become extremely concerned about the vulnerability of their personal data when shopping in stores since the incident.

This week, Congress is examining data security breaches and what to do about them. Four committees have scheduled hearings.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, the head of the Federal Trade Commission and officials from the Secret Service and the Justice Department are set to testify. So are executives of Target and luxury retailer Neiman Marcus.

Still unknown is how the malicious software that was used to carry out the theft got into Target's computer system and how the hackers stole credentials from a Target vendor to enter the system. The identity of the vendor isn't known, either. The Secret Service has been investigating, and Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Justice Department is conducting a criminal probe to find those responsible.

Retailers are trying to shore up consumers' confidence by upgrading and testing their systems for accepting payments. But their trade association says the billions that merchants are spending won't prevent breaches unless the banks adopt more secure card technology.

The banks plan to put digital chips for storing account information on debit and credit cards by the fall of 2015. Compared with the current magnetic strips, it's a system that typically makes data theft harder and is common in other countries. This would be a step forward but hardly a guarantee against cyber attacks, the banks caution.

Retailers want the chips, but they also want each debit or credit card transaction to require a personal identification number instead of a signature. Experts say it's harder for criminals to steal personal identification numbers than to forge signatures.

The magnetic strips use the same technology as cassette tapes to store account information and are easy to copy. By contrast, a digital chip generates a unique code each time it's used. Criminals can steal and sell data from cards with chips, but they can't create fraudulent cards.

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© 2014 Associated Press under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.
 

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Comment:

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Ryan K:

Posted: 2014-02-11 @ 9:07am PT
@Ken D: That would be nice!

Ken D.:

Posted: 2014-02-11 @ 9:06am PT
Here's a novel idea...
How about the retailers and the banks *work together* to come up with sound security measures?



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