Target reacted swiftly to its enormous data breach, but “every retailer on the planet now considers themselves under attack,” Robert Siciliano of McAfee, a computer-security software company, tells the Columbus Dispatch. Target reported criminals had gained access to 40 million shoppers' credit- and debit-card information on Nov. 27 and maintained access through Dec. 15. Last week, Target said other data had been stolen, affecting as many as 70 million customers. Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus reported that hackers stole credit- and debit-card information from as many as 1 million customers and made unauthorized charges over the holiday season.
Overshadowing the immediate mop-up situation are the larger questions of who did it, how they did it and how similar attacks can be stopped. “Whenever there's a crime of this magnitude, I don't think the public is ever relieved until they catch the guys who did this,” said retail analyst Chris Boring, principal at Boulevard Strategies. An official of the National Retail Federation said there must be “a fundamental change to the way (credit) cards are designed.” Credit cards in the United States use a magnetic stripe that contains cardholder information. But most of the rest of the world has upgraded to cards that contain a microchip — a far-more-secure technology.