In Senate hearing, Target official to apologize for data breach

WASHINGTON Tue Feb 4, 2014 10:15am EST

WASHINGTON Feb 4 (Reuters) - A top official with retailer Target Corp. planned to apologize to a U.S. Congressional panel on Tuesday for the massive data breach that compromised payment card data and personal information of tens of millions of its customers.

John Mulligan, chief financial officer at Target, was set to appear before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on preventing data breaches and combating cybercrime.

"I want to say how deeply sorry we are for the impact this incident has had on our guests - your constituents," Mulligan said in prepared remarks.

The No. 3 U.S. retailer is working hard to earn back the trust of its customers and "moving as quickly as possible to share accurate and actionable information with the public," he said.

Target was hit by a massive cyber theft over the holiday shopping period. Some 40 million credit and debt card records were stolen, along with 70 million other records with customer information such as addresses and telephone numbers.

Among others due to speak to the panel on Tuesday is Michael Kingston, chief information officer with upscale retailer Neiman Marcus, which was also hit by a large data hack in recent weeks.

Lawmakers are staging a series of hearings this week on aspects of the data breaches.

On Monday, a top Secret Service agent joined a chorus urging lawmakers to do more to prevent the types of crimes that have come to light recently. Congress has wrestled for years with proposals for legislation on data security but has been unable to reach agreement.

"All businesses - and their customers - are facing increasingly sophisticated threats from cyber criminals," said Mulligan. "To prevent this from happening again, none of us can go it alone."

On Monday Target said it was speeding up a planned $100 million program to implement the use of chip-enabled smart cards to protect against cyber theft.