Target chief information officer (CIO) Beth Jacob has resigned from her role in the wake of a data breach of the company's systems in late 2013 that comprised over 40 million customers' credit and debit card accounts.
Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel announced the departure in a statement, explaining Jacob (pictured) will leave the company immediately and Target is searching for an interim CIO to fill her position.
"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," he said.
"As a first step in this effort, Target will be conducting an external search for an interim CIO who can help guide Target through this transformation."
The Target breach is believed to have occurred between 27 November and 15 December, and saw hackers break into Target's systems and steal customers' credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and debit card PIN numbers.
The hackers also stole as many as 70 million customers' names, phone numbers and email and mailing addresses. Since the breach researchers at security firm FireEye discovered the stolen Target customer details being sold on a number of underground Russian forums.
The breach was credited as one of the biggest in 2013 and Target is still actively investigating the extent of the damage. The breach led Target to pledge to completely re-think its security strategy and systems. The new CIO will reportedly work with advisors from Promontory Financial Group in this endeavour.
Jacob had worked as Target's CIO since 2008, managing teams in the US and India.
Jacob's exit proves the dangers of being a CIO in today's volatile security landscape. Security vendors have warned for years that developments in cyber criminal techniques mean no companies' systems are unhackable, putting most CIOs in a tricky situation.
The vendors have called for businesses to drop traditional perimeter-based security models to deal with the problem.
FireEye's European director of systems engineering Yogi Chandiramani highlighted the Target breach as proof that perimeter-based defences are no longer effective, during an interview with V3 in January.
Chandiramani said to deal with the advanced threats, businesses must adopt intelligence-based security models that focus on detecting and combating threats within the network as well as outside of it.
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