Retailers Take Action to Protect Your Data

Anna Williams
Posted

retailer card securityAfter this winter’s widespread hacker attacks, retailers are making moves to step up their security.

In particular, Target—which was hit with a massive security breach during the holiday shopping season—is planning to hasten the adoption of chip-enabled smart card technology. The measure, which will cost the retail giant up to $100 million, is a major attempt to protect against future cyber theft.

This “chip and PIN” standard, which is already widely used throughout Europe, encrypts data on computer chips on credit cards, rather than the magnetic strips currently used in America. This new method “would dramatically improve the security of all credit and debit cards,” John Mulligan, C.F.O. of Target wrote.

Although payment networks likes MasterCard and Visa had set an October 2015 deadline for compliance with the new payment system, Target is now rushing to upgrade to meet this standard by early 2015.

Efforts like Target’s are certainly a step in the right direction, but some security experts question whether the new technology is really enough to fend off future attacks. Overall, retailers devote just 4% of their technology budgets to security, while banks and health care firms spend closer to 6%, according to research firm Gartner.

Experts also told Reuters that there isn’t enough collaboration among retailers on best practices and security alerts. Michael Kingston, the Chief Information Officer at Neiman Marcus, which also suffered security breaches, admitted that more could be done. ”Having the tools and technology isn’t enough in this day and age,” he acknowledged before Congress this week. “It’s often how you deploy these technologies and what else are you doing—which goes back to making sure we’re sharing intelligence as much as we can.”