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Retailers Vow to Strengthen Security in Wake of Data Breaches

[Sunday, February 9th, 2014]

After major data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus stores across the United States left millions of people vulnerable to fraud, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is vowing to tighten security to protect consumers.

They have announced an initiative—the RILA Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Initiative—to begin the dialogue on how to enhance payment security and protect consumer data. The three major components of the initiative are: strengthening cyber security, improving payment security, and addressing consumer privacy. As part of those overall goals, they are proposing:

  • Forming a Retail Cybersecurity Leaders Council, comprised of senior retail executives in charge of cyber security.
  • Developing federal data breach notification legislation along with congressional leaders.
  • Helping write federal cyber security legislation to put policy in place to protect financial infrastructure.
  • Eliminating magnetic stripe technology in favor of better technology, which is already widely used throughout the rest of the world.
  • Making chip-based smart card technology the standard in the United States.
  • Forming partnerships across payment systems to encourage collaboration when addressing payment security issues.
  • Going to greater efforts to inform consumers about how their information is used, and what data is shared.
  • Promoting practices and policies consistent with retail privacy laws.

The Target data breach affected an estimated 40 million consumers who shopped at the retail chain between November 27 and December 15. Neiman Marcus was also hit by cyber thieves, compromising the security of people who had used prepaid cards, debit cards, and credit cards at their stores.

RILA president Sandy Kennedy said that because cyber criminals are increasingly sophisticated in their methods of attack, current retail security measures have not been enough to protect consumers.

“By working together with public-private sector stakeholders, our ability to develop innovative solutions and anticipate threats will grow, enhancing our collective security and giving customers the service and peace of mind they deserve,” said Kennedy.

Target, and several other companies, are offering free credit monitoring in the wake of the data breaches so that individuals who may have been affected by the breaches can keep a close eye on their accounts.

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