Where Does It End For Target – First Secret Service, Then FBI, Now DOJ

As more and more details are released to the public, the Target data breach saga continues to intensify. The investigation reached new heights this week as US Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed his office is attempting to find and apprehend the cyber criminals responsible for the data breach, as well as any persons who may be using this stolen information for personal gain.  

The office is evaluating and enforcing "privacy protections and other safeguards concerning data possessed by government as well as the private sector," said Attorney General Holder on Wednesday at a Senate hearing.

The Justice Department’s involvement adds another layer to the unfolding Target fiasco, a debacle that both the Secret Service and the FBI are already involved in. U.S. federal credit card fraud cases are typically overseen by the Secret Service, but the inclusion of both the FBI and the Justice Department is proof that this cyber attack is not being taken lightly.

Target confirmed up to 40 million credit and debit card accounts were compromised in the cyber attack. Investigators also confirmed personal data potentially exposed in the attack includes account information like names, postal codes, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers.  

The FBI warned U.S. retailers last week to prepare for the possibility of more cyber attacks, with cyber criminals liable to take advantage of outdated retail security systems similar to ones in place at Target. The malware harvests data from point-of-sale systems, including cash registers and credit card swiping machines.

While Target is the victim of the most publicized security breach, the malware has been used against similar retailers. Details emerged that security systems in up to 20 different retailers were targeted by malware in 2013, including the luxury specialty department store Neiman Marcus.

Despite being a victim of the cyber attack, there are rumors that Target could be faced with a massive fine up to $3.6 billion – a bill that could very well be passed onto shoppers through more expensive prices or higher credit card processing fees.