For many consumers, the 2013 holiday season was darkened by a high-profile data breach that hit Minnesota-based retail giant Target. According to The Huffington Post, the company's December 19th announcement revealing that 40 million customers' information had been stolen was not accurate. The corporation has since revised its statement to account for an additional 30 million customers, bringing the total number of people with exposed data up to 70 million. Besides payment card numbers, Target customers had personal information such as home and email addresses, phone numbers and names stolen by cyber attackers who have yet to be identified by authorities.
Determining the nature and origin of the breaches
As with many IT security concerns, Target is struggling to determine the specifics of the attack. The Huffington Post noted that while law enforcement officials are not positive about the details of the breach, many experts have suspected crime syndicates in Eastern Europe to be responsible. The Secret Service and Department of Justice are both working to get to the bottom of the incident but chose not to offer a comment when addressed by the news source this past weekend. In addition to the highly publicized Target data breach, three smaller retailers were also reported to have fallen victim to similar cyber attacks. Details about these recent incidents have not yet been made public, but authorities speculate they may be linked to the Target attacks.
More companies fall victim to attacks
Neiman Marcus is another large retail chain that experienced a recent data breach resulting in compromised customer information. According to a recent report from Krebs On Security, the Texas-based department store suffered an attack around mid-December. Despite hiring the assistance of a third-party security firm, the company still has not uncovered any clues about the size, duration or cause of the cyber attack. Neiman Marcus released a statement addressing customers about the incident.
"On January 1st, the forensics firm discovered evidence that the company was the victim of a criminal cyber-security intrusion and that some customers' cards were possibly compromised as a result. We have begun to contain the intrusion and have taken significant steps to further enhance information security. The security of our customers' information is always a priority and we sincerely regret any inconvenience."
Consumers who used bank cards with either of these companies should review their bank statements to ensure that no fraudulent activity has occurred.