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Target Taking Actions on Security, Executive Says

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An executive of Target Corp. says the retailer has taken actions to shore up security following the massive breach of millions of consumers' data during the holiday season. He urged banks, retailers and the government to work together to protect consumers.
 
John Mulligan, executive vice president and chief financial officer at the No. 2 U.S. discounter, testified at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was the first public appearance by a Target executive addressing the issue since the breach that occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

"We are undertaking an end-to-end forensic review of our entire network. Target is accelerating our investment in chip technology for our Target Red Cards and for point of sales terminals."

An estimated 40 million credit and debit card accounts were affected.

Neiman Marcus also recently disclosed cyber thieves hacked its customer data. "The malware captured payment card data in real time, right after a card was swiped and had sophisticated features that were difficult to detect," says Neiman Marcus Group Senior VP Michael Kinston.
 
Mulligan said Target is "deeply sorry" for the effect of the data theft on consumers, and he acknowledged that their confidence in the Minneapolis-based company has been shaken. 

Recent polls show nearly half of all people surveyed are extremely concerned about the safety of their personal credit card information.

Congress is working on new laws to help protect credit card information and standardize the way consumers are notified if it is stolen. "I hope to learn where this committee's expertise can be helpful in preventing future attacks," says Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

There is also a call for the banking industry to modernize cards with computer chips; current cards use magnetic strips. "Chip and pin is the next technology in America. But banks have not even proposed that we go to the chip and pin which has been in use in Europe for years," says Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Bankers say the micro-chip technology - which would cost billions to implement - would not have prevented the recent breach at Target.

(CBS News, The Associated Press contributed to the report.)

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