By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO
Target Corp. Chief Information Officer Beth Jacob resigned Wednesday as the retailer overhauls its information security and compliance division in the wake of a massive pre-Christmas data breach.
Target Chairman, President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in a statement released to The Associated Press that the company will search for an interim chief information officer who can help guide the company through the transformation. Jacob had been in her current role since 2008 and oversaw teams in the U.S. and India.
The resignation reflects the pressure that the nation’s second-largest discount retailer faces as it tries to restore its reputation among investors and shoppers nervous about the security of their personal data.
Target said Jacob’s resignation was her decision. But analysts say Jacob, who brought a series of technology initiatives to Target’s stores and its website, was a scapegoat.
“Target has been obviously impacted. People are questioning Target’s security. And she was the fall guy,” said Walter Loeb, a New York-based independent retail consultant.
Target disclosed on Dec. 19 that the data breach compromised 40 million credit and debit card accounts between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. Then on Jan. 10 it said hackers also stole personal information — including names, phone numbers, and email and mailing addresses — from as many as 70 million customers.
Target has said it believes hackers broke into its network by infiltrating the computers of a vendor. Then the hackers installed malicious software in the checkout system for Target’s estimated 1,800 U.S. stores.
Target, based in Minneapolis, also plans to look outside the company for a chief information security officer and a chief compliance officer. Before the overhaul, information security functions were split among a variety of executives. Target’s new chief information security officer will centralize those responsibilities, the company said.
Compliance duties were previously overseen by Target’s current vice president of assurance risk and compliance, who already had plans to retire at the end of March. Now, Target is separating the responsibility for assurance risk and compliance.