CISO’s & CIO’s Need to Target a New Security Plan

 In Insights

CISO’s & CIO’s Need to Target a New Security Plan

Why didn’t $1.6 Million dollars worth of security & around the clock supervision stop the software breach in Target’s system this holiday season?

Like most busy working moms, the days surrounding the holidays this past season found me at Target more times than I’d like to mention.  However, it also left me with the headache of changing debit cards after the biggest retail hack in US history.  Luckily for our family, a change of cards was all we had to worry about.  The Target breach of 2013 was not particularly inventive, as common as these crimes have become the retailer was surprisingly prepared for such an attack.

Six months earlier the company had begun installing a $1.6 million malware detection tool made by the computer security firm FireEye (FEYE), whose customers also include the CIA and even the Pentagon. Target had a team of security specialists in Bangalore to monitor its’ computers around the clock. If Bangalore noticed anything suspicious, Target’s security operations center in Minneapolis would be notified.  Target had also increased their security staff, bringing their numbers to over 300.

So what does the Target breach teach the Security Executives & Chief Information Security Officers of other organizations which maintain sensitive customer data?  What are the most important lessons learned, and how should these lessons effect how CISO’s are creating their own security plans?  When the hackers uploaded exfiltration malware to move stolen credit card numbers, FireEye spotted them. Target’s state of the art security operations center did nothing, and according to the extensive investigative report from Bloomberg Business week, it was the Federal Law Enforcement 2 weeks later who contacted Target about the breach.  If Target’s security’s team had simply followed up on the earliest alerts they would have been on the path to the data from the start.

We should also look at the lack of understanding of Target’s security environment.  The organization had a vacancy at its’ Security Operations Center Management role.  As an Executive Recruiter, I have countless times counselled CISO’s & CIO’s as to what may happen if they were to leave these roles vacant for a length of time.  There are many lessons learned from numerous security blunders in the Target data breach, and unfortunately many more data breaches we’re hearing about day to day.  As security experts we must learn from past mistakes and increase our teams’ timeliness, and better understanding of our network security capabilities & where there may be holes.  CIO’s should question their CISO’s and potential hires on the effectiveness of their security plans in light of what we’ve learned from the Target breach, and fill any gaps promptly.  We can all hope that this Holiday season will be hassle free and I’m crossing my fingers the hackers stay away from Toys R Us!

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