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Target's tech chief quits after data breach

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Target Corp.'s head of technology stepped down Wednesday as the company tries to recover from one of the largest data breaches on record at a retailer.

Beth Jacob, who served as executive vice president of technology services and chief information officer for Target since 2008, resigned both posts, Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement.

"While we are still in the process of an ongoing investigation, we recognize that the information security environment is evolving rapidly," he said. "To ensure that Target is well positioned following the data breach we suffered last year, we are undertaking an overhaul of our information security and compliance structure and practices at Target."

The first step, according to Steinhafel: looking externally for an interim chief information officer to "guide Target through this transformation." Target also said it would hire outside the company for a chief information security officer and a chief compliance officer. The retailer said it was working with a third-party advisor, Promontory Financial Group, to help evaluate its operations.

Also Wednesday, Sally Beauty Holdings Inc. said its systems had "detected an attempted intrusion" into its network — the fourth disclosure of a retail industry cyberattack, including reports by Neiman Marcus and Michaels Stores Inc., which followed Target's Dec. 19 acknowledgment.

Sally Beauty Holding, a beauty products retailer and distributor, said it "promptly mitigated potential issues."

"As a result of our ongoing investigation, which included assistance from a top-tier security firm, we have no reason to believe there has been any loss of credit card or consumer data," the Denton, Texas, company said in a statement. "We will continue to investigate and actively monitor this situation.

Jacob joined Minneapolis-based Target as an assistant buyer for its department store division in 1984 but departed two years later. She returned in 2002 as the director of guest contact centers.

On Twitter, she describes herself as "CIO @Target. Love reading, cooking, movie, traveling & spending time with family."

Target initially said that about 40 million payment card accounts were hacked during the pre-Christmas shopping season, and added later that about 70 million customers may have also had their addresses, phone numbers and other information compromised.

Jacob stopped tweeting after Dec. 13.

The breach stung Target deeply. The retailer said last week that its fourth-quarter profit slumped 46% while revenue slid 5.3%.

The company also picked up $61 million in hacking-related expenses, though it said it expects all but $17 million of that bill to be covered by its insurance.

Target's stock closed Wednesday at $60.60 a share, down 73 cents, or about 1%. Target's stock has bounced around since the data breach was disclosed, falling from $63.55 on Dec. 18 to as low as $55.07 on Feb. 5, before recovering.

Target is now in security overdrive, pledging to speed up its $100-million adoption of so-called EMV payment card technology as a supplemental payment system. The cards rely on encrypted chips for a stronger defense against hackers than can be provided by the magnetic stripe cards that have been the norm.

tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

Twitter: @tiffhsulatimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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