Target execs 'deeply sorry' for data breach

Representatives from the retail giant Target apologized to lawmakers Tuesday for its recent data breach.

“I want to say how deeply sorry we are for the impact this incident has had on our guests, and your constituents,” Target Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan said, beginning witness testimony during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on data breaches.

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“We know this breach has shaken their confidence in Target, and we are determined to work very hard to earn it back,” he said.

Late last year, Target confirmed reports that a data breach compromised tens of millions of customers' financial information during the holiday shopping season. The company later said personal information such as email addresses was also affected.

Congress began mulling a legislative response after other retailers suffered similar hacking attacks. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), for example, has reintroduced his Personal Data Privacy and Security Act.

That bill would create a national notification standard for companies who have experienced a data breach and would impose criminal penalties for companies that fail to notify consumers about damaging data breaches.

Mulligan said the breach has “strengthened our resolve” to protect customers and encouraged the company to work “to make Target, and our industry, more secure for consumers in the future.”

He pointed to Target’s efforts to prevent breaches since the attack, including “accelerating our investment in chip technology” for its store credit cards and creating initiatives to increase public awareness about data breaches.

But all the players in this space need to work together to meaningfully advance protections from data breaches, he said.

Since last year's high-profile data breaches, retailers have called for technical improvements to credit cards, such as changing from magnetic strip cards to “chip and PIN” cards like those used in other countries. 

Financial institutions should work to move toward that technology to protect consumers, retailers have said.

“Updating payment card technology and strengthening protections for American consumers is a shared responsibility and requires a collective and coordinated response,” Mulligan said during Tuesday’s hearing.

Mulligan said he hoped his testimony would “reiterate how sorry we are that this happened and our ongoing commitment to making this right.”

— This story was updated at 11:32 a.m.