New Target CIO must prioritize security

13046769284_0bff4e6fc6_zLast year’s Target data breach was one of the most massive cybercrimes yet. Hackers gained access to approximately 40 million customers’ debit and credit card accounts, including names, PINs, expiration dates and embedded magnetic strip codes. These cybercriminals also accessed additional customer information, such as names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers, bringing the total number of Target consumers affected to around 70 million.

The effects of this breach, which was over three months ago, continue to resonate. The most recent casualty: Target Chief Information Officer Beth Jacob, who resigned from her position effective March 12, NBC News reported.

Data breaches have consequences

The news source reported that Jacob’s departure was announced as part of a company-wide effort to overhaul Target’s information security and compliance structure.

“While we are still in the process of an ongoing investigation, we recognize that the information security environment is evolving rapidly,” Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. “As a first step in this effort, Target will be conducting an external search for an interim CIO who can help guide Target through this transformation.”

InformationWeek noted that Jacob took over the position of Target CIO in 2008, and originally joined the company in 1984 as an assistant buyer.

Jacob’s resignation was not the only effect of the breach. NBC News also reported that Target revealed its fourth-quarter profits dropped 46 percent on a revenue decline of 5.3 percent. This decline of business was attributed to a loss of customers, as many consumers were afraid that patronizing Target would put their personal, sensitive data at risk of exposure.

Taking steps toward a safer future

The replacement of Jacob is only one of several steps that Target is taking in response to the data breach. InformationWeek reported that Target intends to elevate the importance and responsibilities of its CIO position moving forward, emphasizing a greater focus on security.

Additionally, Target revealed last month that it will invest $100 million in smart chip credit cards and debit cards, while also installing more advanced hardware in its stores, the news source noted.

These consequences and the company’s response serve to further highlight how seriously organizations should treat the threat of data breaches. Every company, no matter its size, may be a target.

Image (cc) JepersMedia via Flickr

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