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Target testifies on response to security breach

John Mulligan, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Target, testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

John Mulligan, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Target, testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

WASHINGTON — An executive of Target Corp. said Tuesday the retailer has taken actions to shore up security following the massive breach of millions of consumers’ data during the holiday season.

But senators examining the issue at a hearing said even the most robust security systems can be vulnerable to cyberattack, and only the adoption of more advanced technology for payment cards and processing systems by banks and retailers will reduce fraud.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee testimony by John Mulligan, executive vice president and chief financial officer at the number-two US discounter, also revealed that Target discovered an additional 25 cash registers infected by malicious software on Dec. 18.

The company had said earlier that it had removed all the malware from its system by Dec. 15.

Mulligan’s testimony was the first public appearance by a Target executive addressing the issue since the breach that occurred between Nov. 27 and mid-December. An estimated 40 million credit and debit card accounts were affected.

Among the actions the Minneapolis-based company has taken, he said, is a thorough review of its payment network with an eye to improving security, and issuing new credit or debit cards to customers requesting them.

Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the panel’s chairman, said the erosion of consumers’ confidence could hinder the economy’s recovery.

To prevent attacks, the banking and retailing industries have to adopt more secure technologies, members of the Judiciary panel said.

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