Security Breach at Target Corp Highlights Importance of Research on Cyber Security

Kimberly Hauge

Kimberly Hauge was previously a Program Officer at AICGS.

This morning, Target Corps released that there has been a security breach, and about 40 million credit and debit cards have been accessed from customers of Target stores (not online) between November 27 to December 15, 2013. Target immediately sent out a notice to warn their customers of the attack.

Information that was stolen in this incident include customers’ names, the credit/debit card numbers, the cards’ expiration dates, and CVV security code. This is more than enough to make fraudulent purchases and Target warns its customers to keep a close eye on their charges to catch possible identity theft. There are a number of steps they should follow, including reporting suspicious charges to their financial institution, contacting the Federal Trade Commission or law enforcement, and requesting a credit report. Target then suggests further action that can be taken depending on which state you reside in.

In recent events and publications, AGI has been focusing on German, European, and American efforts at improving data protection, and this topic clearly deserves even more attention. It is alarming how many places keep our financial information and imperative that policy is put into place that forces companies like Target to take strict measures to protect that information. At the AGI Symposium in November, representatives from a variety of private companies described how easy it is for a hacker to attack corporate infrastructure. Information Technology firms are working to develop new software to prevent these attacks, but the government must also play a role in protecting its citizens’ rights.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.