Target looking into response to breach

Target’s security software detected potentially malicious activity during last year’s massive data breach, but its staff decided not to take immediate action, the retailer said Thursday.

“With the benefit of hindsight, we are investigating whether if different judgments had been made the outcome may have been different,” company spokeswoman Molly Snyder said in a statement.

The disclosure came after Bloomberg Businessweek reported Thursday that Target’s security team in Bangalore, India, had received alerts from a FireEye security system on Nov. 30 after the attack was launched and sent them to Target headquarters in Minneapolis.

The FireEye reports indicated that malicious software had appeared in the system and that attackers were planning to send stolen data to servers outside Target’s network, according to a person whom Bloomberg Businessweek had consulted on Target’s investigation but was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Target’s chief financial officer, John Mulligan, told a congressional committee in February that the company began investigating Dec. 12, when the U.S. Justice Department warned the company about suspicious activity involving payment cards.

About 40 million payment card records were stolen from the retailer, along with 70 million other records with customer information such as addresses and telephone numbers.

— Reuters

Feb. sales up, Jan. figure revised down

There was a mix of good and bad news for retailers Thursday: Sales bounded back last month, but the winter drop was bigger than estimated, the government reported.

February’s retail sales were 0.3 percent higher than the previous month’s, but January’s sales were revised down, according to a monthly report from the Commerce Department.

Last month’s uptick is a boost for retailers, who faced a string of monthly sales declines because of the harsh winter, a weak holiday season and excessive discounts that hurt their profits.

January sales fell by 0.6 percent, down from the initial estimate of 0.4 percent.

Because of the harsh weather over much of the nation, economists had said it was too soon to tell whether the monthly drops were a sign of larger problems in the retail sector. But now analysts point to it as a weather-related blip.

Sales of furniture, clothing and department store goods rose in February, while electronics and appliances slipped.

Amrita Jayakumar

Also in Business

— From news services

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