Target exec resigns after data breach

03/05/2014 6:36 PM

03/05/2014 6:36 PM

Target said Wednesday that its chief information officer had resigned, the first high-level executive to depart after an enormous breach of customer data late last year that put a dent in profits.

The company will hire an interim information officer while it searches for an outsider to replace Beth M. Jacob, said Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chief executive.

“While we are still in the process of an ongoing investigation, we recognize that the information security environment is evolving rapidly,” Steinhafel said. “To ensure that Target is well-positioned following the data breach we suffered last year, we are undertaking an overhaul of our information security and compliance structure and practices at Target.”

In her letter of resignation, Jacob said she was stepping down “effective immediately,” but she made no mention of the data breach.

“This is a difficult decision after 12 rewarding years with the company I love,” Jacob said. “But this is a good time for a change.”

Jacob first joined Target in 1984 as an assistant buyer, according to the Target website. She left the company for a time, then returned in 2002. She had been vice president of Target Technology Services and chief information officer since 2008.

On Dec. 19, during the final days of the holiday shopping season, the company publicly confirmed that credit card and debit card information for 40 million of its customers had been compromised. A few weeks later, the company announced that another batch of data, personal information on some 70 million customers, had been stolen as well.

The breach at Target was believed to have been perpetrated by a group of criminals in Eastern Europe who installed malware on the company’s system to siphon away customer information, according to two people involved in the investigation who were not authorized to speak publicly.

On Wednesday, the company also announced that it would be hiring a new chief compliance officer. Ann Scovil, who is head of compliance and risk assurance at the company, will be retiring at the end of the month, said a spokeswoman, and her position will be split between two people. Target, which historically has been fond of hiring internally, will be looking outside the company for at least one of those positions.

The company is also working with an outside firm, the Promontory Financial Group, to help it “evaluate our technology, structure, processes and talent as a part of this transformation,” Steinhafel said.

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