NEW YORK (AP) – Some of the country's largest retailers are banding together in hopes of protecting consumers' personal and financial information from hackers and thieves.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association, along with several top retailers ranging from Gap Inc. to Walgreen Co., on Wednesday launched an intelligence sharing center focused on the prevention of cybercrimes against retailers.
According to RILA, the center will allow retailers to share information about data breaches and potential threats and also inform members of law enforcement and industry analysts.
Sandy Kennedy, RILA's president, said crimes stemming from data breaches are one of the biggest challenges facing retailers.
"It's really in everyone's interest, every retailer's interest, to protect information against cybercrime," Kennedy said in an interview ahead of the group's announcement. "Criminals are getting more and more sophisticated. We're looking at how we can deal with this long term."
Other participating retailers include Nike Inc., Lowes Cos. and Target Corp., which was hit with a massive data breach at the height of last year's holiday shopping season.
The incident resulted in the theft of 40 million debit and credit card numbers, as well as the personal information of up to 70 million shoppers, and shined a spotlight on the growing problem of cybercrime.
While work on the cyber intelligence sharing center began in the wake of the Target breach, and smaller breaches at Neiman Marcus and Michaels Stores Inc., Kennedy said data crime was a big concern for the industry well before those incidents occurred late last year.
"All of our members have been focused on this for a long time," Kennedy said. "Our goal is to make sure the data is protected and that if criminals do get into data, it's in a form that they can't use."
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