Thu, Aug 16th 2007 6:16am
While personal data leaks continue to occur at a pretty regular clip, very few companies or government agencies take the problem very seriously. This is mostly because after the initial bout of bad PR, the repercussions are minimal, so few groups bother to spend the time and resources needed to put proper preventative measures in place. Perhaps, though, that will begin to change as the costs of these data leaks and breaches become more publicized. For instance, TJX, the retailer that suffered the largest breach of credit-card data ever, reported this week that its second-quarter costs related to that breach came in at more than 10 times its initial estimates, and added up to 25 cents per share in the quarter. The raw figure of $117 million still isn't that much, but it cut the company's earnings per share in half from the year-ago quarter -- and that's bound to upset the company's investors. They're likely to be even more annoyed if they look into the details of the breach: earlier reports highlighted the company's security incompetence, but a story this week made things look even worse. The breach was apparently perpetrated by using poorly secured in-store kiosks, which were on the corporate network and not behind firewalls. Attackers stuck USB keys in the kiosks and loaded software that allowed them to be controlled remotely, and used as gateways onto the network. While it certainly doesn't look like TJX was paying a lot of attention to security, a 25 cent per share loss will make investors take notice -- and that, hopefully, will force companies to take data leaks and security more seriously.
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