Target, Neiman Marcus Executives Testify on Capitol Hill

Senators seek answers on recent series of data breaches, how major retailers can better protect consumers.
3:00 | 02/04/14

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Transcript for Target, Neiman Marcus Executives Testify on Capitol Hill
This is a special room. I'm Michelle Franzen -- new York and this is an ABC news digital report. Senators today took dead aim at a top executive from retail giant target. Grilling him about a data breach that compromised the credit and debit card information of more than forty million shoppers. By his side and other top executive from another big retailer Neiman Marcus which suffered a similar break down. With more on what targeted Neiman Marcus added what they're doing to make it safer to shop we're joined now by christened that ship this Fisher thank you very much -- for joining us. This idea of developing a better more secure credit cards we've heard it discussed. But as the technology there. Well that's something that was discussed extensively at today's hearing and you know the reason why this is so important is because last year nearly. Sixty million Americans had their personal information compromised. In more than 600 data breaches target's chief financial officer in the hot seat. Starting with an apology for the massive data breach that affected millions of shoppers. We know this -- shaking their confidence in target. And we are determined to work very hard to -- back. Sitting beside him was the chief information officer for Neiman Marcus who told the Senate Judiciary Committee about their own data breach. More than a million customer accounts have been compromised -- cyber attack similar to the one that affected a 110 million target customers at the end of last year. Really don't have faith in business's ability to protect there. Personal information. An economic recoveries could -- senator Leahy says this hearing is less about finger pointing and more about finding a solution. One option is -- move to more secure credit cards. Once embedded with microchips which have improved credit card security overseas have -- fraud occurs in the United States but only a quarter of the credit card news. Something's wrong with this picture. Everyone agrees that it boils down to better security. But which industry is ultimately responsible for protecting consumers he did the banks that provide a credit cards or the retailers that process -- Target CFO says the interests. To prevent this from happening again none of -- can go to go it alone we need to work together. -- banks and retailers agree on is the need for -- national standard to notify consumers anytime there's a big data breach. Senator Leahy is actually -- introduced a bill that would do just that. He's hoping that what happened at target and Neiman Marcus will help get that -- -- Michelle -- think you'll see how that shapes up and one of the witnesses at that panel hearing earlier today was. Was certainly to -- -- -- Iraq's Johnny from Consumers Union and here she warns of still more troubled waters of the -- At the height of the holiday shopping season. Forty million unsuspecting customers -- that criminals may have gained unauthorized access to their credit card and debit card information. Subsequently seventy million more learned that personal information such as names addresses and telephone numbers. -- have also fallen into the hands of suspected hackers. Since then we've learned of similar breaches -- other retailers. Neiman Marcus has confirmed unauthorized access to payment date up. And my -- stated that it is investigating whether a similar breach a -- Press is reporting that malware that was reportedly used in the Neiman Marcus and target breaches. -- sold to criminals overseas so what we have seen that's -- may just be the tip of the ice -- And that was -- large eruption on -- counsel for Consumers Union speaking earlier today and she joins us now. Dallara an ominous warning just how big is this iceberg you mentioned and how close could we be to strike again. Well it still remains to be seen you know it seems that every week -- new revelation is coming to light. -- -- -- -- -- lawmakers and policy makers are looking at this issue carefully. -- we also heard a lot today from those top target in Neiman Marcus executives that were sitting. By your side next to you how would you describe their plans to keep consumers safe to -- give you confidence. So it was very encouraging to hear that added. Everyone -- -- -- agree that there's there is technology out there that can protect consumers the problem is that it hasn't been widely adopted and in so. You know we believe that -- there's a lot of question about. Who should bear the cost. Implementing such technology. -- the -- it's gonna cost lot of money for people but and ultimately in the long run it's going to be more cost effective said take preventative measures now. He had in his testimony today target exact John Mulligan laid out the timeline of the breach and how -- company responded let's take a listen. On December 15 we confirmed the criminals had infiltrated our system. Had installed malware on our point of sale network and a potentially stolen gas payment date card data. That same day we remove the malware from virtually all registers in our US stores. Over the next two days we began notifying the payment card processors and card networks preparing to notify our -- Equipping our call centers and stores with the necessary information and resources to address the concerns of our guests. Our actions leading up to our public announcement on December 19 and sense having guided by the principle of serving our guests. And we have been moving as quickly as possible share accurate and actionable information with the public. Been tracking that isn't to your knowledge is this an accurate account was consumer information secure by the nineteen. So -- so many details. That remain to be seen about this breach and we're really pleased that. Federal agencies are investigating this senator never seeking -- close -- that we can figure out exactly what happened. But we -- -- -- that it is it is really important -- that day didn't notification. Standards federal -- -- get into -- that was also very encouraging to hear. You know there's also been a lot of talk about the US companies wanting to adopt the chip and -- system that's used everywhere else in the world. Senator Al Franken asked you about it in today's hearing -- won -- place some of your response. Is there a reason that visa and MasterCard don't want to put the pin in there. So where where the promises that have been made to implement the technology by 2015. Think it's -- comes down to money it's expensive to spew. Update the technology at the point of sale it's expensive to reissue cards. We think that we can be would be supportive of efforts to encourage widespread adoption and these technologies and we think that. More of the bush would be a good thing. So we've talked about cost you know how much would how much money would it essentially take for us to switch over. Well let's take a question I don't one thing I will point out is that ad in Europe where has been adopted this technology hat has been adopted its its. Been proven to work and this is something we've reported on repeatedly in our publications like consumer reports. I'm so ultimately in the long run I think it's an actor and best -- to adopt these technologies now on its -- cost effective to dictate to take action now. Anything that time -- -- and didn't just the simplest terms what makes this -- and ten more secure what sort of extra protection does -- give the consumer. Short so generally when he is debit card or credit card at your information your security information is stored on a magnetic strip that's right. Adam and so that's what at a an added layer and security around it and with each transaction -- some of that security information would change and act more protection. -- the large Iraq -- certainly we'll have to wait and see exactly what happens that a lot of information shared today. Thank you for joining us -- you of course can get a complete recap right here on abcnews.com. For now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York with his ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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