Ahead of the Feds: National Retail Federation Works to Build Security Exchange

With the federal government considering building an information-sharing platform for retailers, the National Retail Federation took some steps of its own in that direction this week.

It’s an idea whose time has come, apparently.

With the wide-scale data breach that shook Target last year still fresh in everyone’s minds, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said during an event last week that the commission was “actively exploring” establishing a system for information sharing to encourage the retail sector to prepare for potential threats.

I think there’s a general consensus among policy makers and also among retailers that better information sharing would be a good idea.

On Monday, the National Retail Federation (NRF) announced such a system itself. The new program, created with the help of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), will start by opening a retail ISAC in June. The goal: to provide information about potential cybersecurity threats identified by retailers, government and law enforcement agencies, and financial services companies.

“The safety and security of our customers unites retailers large and small, and information sharing is one of several important steps we are taking in order to achieve this mission critical goal,” Books-A-Million CIO Cy Fenton, chairman of NRF’s  IT Security Council, said in a statement.

NRF’s plan has long been in the works. The association has collaborated with officials from both the public and private sectors to implement security efforts, with law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service and cybersecurity experts at the Chertoff Group assisting with initiatives to improve communication within the retail industry. The plan has the backing of members of Congress (Sen. Mark Warner praised it in an NRF news release) and the industry as a whole.

“I think there’s a general consensus among policy makers and also among retailers that better information sharing would be a good idea,” NRF senior vice president of government relations David French told Ad Age.

The plan comes at a time when details about the Target breach continue to emerge. A recent U.S. Senate report suggested that the company missed numerous warning signs that a breach was occurring, and a recent survey showed that the breach has done long-term damage to Target’s reputation.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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