Target is accelerating a $100-million plan to develop chip-enabled smart cards with better security, after the company suffered a major cyber breach late last year.
In an opinion article published in The Hill newspaper, Target’s chief financial officer John Mulligan wrote that since the data breach, Target has sped up its plan to have chips that keep customers’ personal data more secure in their REDcards by early 2015. That date is six months earlier than their original plan. Currently, credit and debit cards in the U.S. have a magnetic strip that contains buyers’ financial information, but the new smart cards Target is working on will have a chip that encrypts buyers’ personal data during a purchase. So even in the event that a credit card number is stolen, the information is meaningless without the chip. Mulligan also suggests that requiring PIN numbers would add another level of security.
“Nothing is more important to Target than our customers,” Mulligan writes. “We are who we are because of their trust and loyalty. That is why it is so important to move forward with a more secure technology.”
Just hours later, Mulligan apologized for the breach during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on data security.