Target, others form center to fight cybercrime

The Retail Industry Leaders Association and merchants including Target (NYSE: TGT) and JCPenney (NYSE: JCP) have launched an organization committed to preventing cyberattacks in response to a series of data breaches that compromised millions of shoppers' payment data.

Through the independent Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center, retailers can share cyber threat information among themselves and with government agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Other retailers that have agreed to participate in the new info-sharing center are American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO), Gap (NYSE: GPS), Lowe's (NYSE: LOW), Safeway (NYSE: SWY), VF Corporation and Walgreens (NYSE: WAG).

Crimes stemming from data breaches are one of the biggest challenges facing retailers, according to Sandy Kennedy, RILA's president.

"It's really in everyone's interest, every retailer's interest, to protect information against cybercrime," Kennedy told the Associated Press. "Criminals are getting more and more sophisticated. We're looking at how we can deal with this long term."

The RILA initiative joins efforts from the National Retail Federation (NRF), another leading retail organization, aimed at protecting consumer data from cybercriminals and hackers in the aftermath of attacks. The NRF in April said it will establish an Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) for the retail industry in June. The program will provide retailers with actionable and timely threat intelligence to help identify and avoid cyber risks. The NRF is in the final planning stages of the program, which will include access to a secure portal through which members can share information about technology and security.

A string of retail data breaches began last holiday season when Target was hit with a massive cyberattack that compromised more than 40 million credit and debit cards. Target subsequently announced an additional 70 million people had personal information stolen in the breach. Target was hit with $61 million in quarterly expenses from the breach.

Since Target's breach, several other retailers have faced security scares, including Neiman Marcus, Sears (NYSE: SHLD) and, most recently, Sally Beauty Supply (NYSE: SBH). The beauty supplier incurred a charge of $1.1 million in connection with the cyberattack in late February that affected 25,000 credit card numbers.

For more:
-See this RILA press release
-See this Associated Press article

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