When Target announced in December that its credit and customer records had been hacked, and news of similar breaches at other retailers followed, it was a pivotal moment for data security.
Merchants jumped to upgrade and protect their systems. Along with data security companies, payment processors and lawmakers on Capitol Hill they joined a growing chorus calling for better standards and technology to safeguard data.
Target, after acknowledging that as many as 110 million customers had personal information and card data stolen, said it would speed up its adoption of more secure payment technology. Suddenly, banks were being pressured to issue customers new cards with microchips, which have been used in Europe for more than 20 years. Congressional committees asked, with urgency, what more could be done.
Though Target’s hack may have been the impetus for the uproar, underlying the conversation is a threat that’s been growing for years: Data hackers increasingly operating like businesses, with sophisticated networks of criminals hawking a lucrative product — our identities.