Privacy Advisor

Breaches and Calls for Mandated Data Security Increase

February 7, 2014

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

The recent breaches of Target and Neiman Marcus and their subsequent testimony in front of Congress this week has been part of a trigger for an increasing chorus of lawmakers and government agencies calling for federal data security legislation. On Thursday, U.S. Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo joined in by testifying that retailers and companies with customer payments should follow the same obligations as banks to report data breaches, Reuters reports.

“I think you probably need some uniform requirements on disclosure when breaches have actually taken place,” Tarullo told the Senate Banking Committee. In a letter to lawmakers earlier this week, the American Bankers Association, Consumer Bankers Association and others wrote, “We believe that legislation should be enacted to better protect consumers by replacing the current patchwork of state laws with a national standard for data protection and notice.”

For the public sector, a new survey was released this week by Tripwire, which revealed that 43 percent of U.S. government security and compliance professionals believe a “dysfunctional” Congress is “the biggest security threat we face.” Other key findings note that 60 percent believe the new National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) framework will improve security and 45 percent said funding is the biggest challenge their respective agency faces to appropriately implement a cybersecurity program.

Looking for more information on how to respond to a data breach? Check out Close-Up: Responding to a Breach in the IAPP Resource Center.

NIST Fellow Ron Ross said, “Cybersecurity continues to be one of the top priorities of senior executives in the federal government.” 

Major Healthcare Breach Reported

And data breaches continue to hit a variety of organizations. Texas-based St. Joseph Health System has revealed the records of approximately 405,000 past and current patients as well as employees have been compromised in an apparent hack of one of its computer servers, InformationWeek reports. Compromised records may include Social Security numbers, birth dates, contact information and possibly health and financial data. According to the article, if confirmed, this would be one of the largest health data breaches to hit an individual hospital.

A new breach report from Redspin reveals that the number of data breaches reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has increased by 138 percent since 2012, HealthcareITNews reports.

Breach Response

More is coming out about the recent attack on White Lodging Services, according to NBC News. In a company statement, the nine-month hack was known to the company for two weeks prior to notifying the public. "We were informed of the suspected breach on January 16, 2014 and then promptly contacted law enforcement, engaged a security forensic firm and commenced the investigation,” the company wrote, adding, “The forensic investigation, research to identify the affected locations and cards, the procurement of identity theft protection services and preparation of communications was conducted as fast as we could.”

Both Target and Neiman Marcus, according to testimony from earlier this week, also needed at least a week before publicly revealing their breaches. However, Consumer Reports has said that Target’s credit monitoring offer to affected customers is not an effective response. Their analysis has found the free service has the potential to give consumers a false sense of security.

Read more by Jedidiah Bracy:
Target and Neiman Marcus: We Did All We Could
Justice Dept. To Allow Some Transparency; More Surveillance Programs Revealed
Federal Courts at Loggerheads in NSA Surveillance Cases; Snowden Disclosures to Continue in 2014
Federal Judge Rules NSA Phone Metadata Collection Program Likely Unconstitutional