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September 1, 2014

Target’s CFO to head to D.C. for breach hearing; Congress seeks records

Target’s Chief Financial Officer, John Mulligan, will represent the company on Capitol Hill when a U.S. Senate committee looks into the data breach at the Minneapolis-based retailer, the Business Journal reports.

The Feb. 4  Judiciary Committee hearing will be chaired by Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and carries the title “Privacy in the Digital Age: Preventing Data Breaches and Combating Cybercrime,” the Business Journal says. Leahy is the author of a bill that would set national standards regarding the prevention and reporting of breaches.

Target has said about 40 million customers had their credit and debit card numbers stolen during the holiday shopping season. The breach also involved the theft of personal information such as addresses and phone numbers from another 70 million, the company says.

Reuters reports Congress put new pressure on Target Thursday when the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee demanded a cache of documents and records related to the breach.

The CEO of a company that works with firms responding to cyber attacks told Reuters such a request is onerous and unprecedented. David Kennedy of TrustedSec LLC told the news service: “You just can’t basically say ‘give me everything you have related to your security program.’ This is crazy.”

The request was made of Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel, for whom the data breach is not the only headache.

In a closer look at Steinhafel, the Wall Street Journal reports he was already under pressure over losses related to Target’s expansion into Canada and the loss of shoppers to online rivals. Target this week cut 475 corporate jobs. Most of those cuts are expected to be in Minneapolis, although the company is not specifying how many.

A source tells the Journal Target’s board has urged Steinhafel to play a more public role in managing the data breach crisis. That was reportedly a factor in Steinhafel agreeing to an interview on CNBC earlier this month.

Reuters also reported Thursday that the FBI is warning retailers to expect more cyber attacks. The Bureau tells retailers that 20 hacking cases in the past year have involved the same type of malware used in Target’s data breach, Reuters says.