Home Depot Data Breach Cost Approaching $300 MillionRich
Internally, the company elevated its chief information security officer to senior management so the position could focus solely on data security. In addition, Linda Gooden, a former Lockheed Martin executive vice president with an extensive background in information technology, cybersecurity, operations and finance, was named to the company’s board Oct. 5. Workers were trained to protect equipment and identify phishing and other cyberattack methods. While encryption is helpful, financial institutions argue that a unified security standard is needed if the nation is going to successfully tackle data security. Legislation to do that, the Data Security Act of 2015, has been introduced in both houses of Congress but has not gotten much traction. Elevated standards “It would elevate the same data security standards to everyone,” said Sam Whitfield deputy chief advocacy officer for congressional relations for the Credit Union National Association. “It is not the silver bullet, but with it we can minimize the problem.” CUNA, which is among the financial institutions suing Home Depot, also wants notifications laws surrounding breaches changed to allow financial institutions to tell customers the origins of a hack. Right now, banks and credit unions can only say a breach has happened, offer consumers tips to protect their credit history and issue new cards. “We can’t disclose a lot of information on the threat of being sued,” he said. Charles Hoff, CEO and co-founder of consultant PCI University, said Home Depot has handled its security crisis well, but that won’t absolve it of the mistakes made, or stop the continuing risk of information exposure. Collecting personal data such as emails so the retailer can use it to market products makes the company — and other big box retailers for that matter — targets for data thieves. “Hackers have gotten much more sophisticated and really love the information aggregation,” he said. “It’s a treasure trove for hackers.”
If your personal information is put at risk in a company breach, there are steps to take to protect yourself, says Trey Loughran, chief marketing officer at Atlanta-based Equifax. 1. Retain letter or email notifications of a breach. Many businesses offer free identity theft monitoring services after a breach, and you should take advantage of it if they do. 2. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnionPlace — and place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your card. Fraud alerts protect against new account fraud by requiring any credit grantor to take extra steps to verify your identity. A credit freeze prevents credit grantors from accessing your credit report altogether, so they would need to be lifted if you need to access credit for a major purchase down the road. 3. Speak with appropriate creditors or banks associated with the breached company and either close those accounts or take your bank’s recommended steps. 4. Monitor bank account statements and credit reports to look for unusual activity, keeping in mind identity thieves may not use your personal information right away. 5. Seek a copy of your credit report. Consumers are entitled under law to receive a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com .
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