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Trials & Litigation

Cost of Biggest Data Breach: $256 Million

Posted Aug 15, 2007 1:31 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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It will cost at least $256 million to correct a massive data breach involving the theft of computerized information about 45 million credit and debit cards.

Reportedly the biggest such security breach ever to occur in the U.S., the yearlong theft of computer data from TJX Cos., based in Framingham, Mass., was discovered in December. The $256 million admittedly being spent by the retailer to correct the problem includes the cost of fixing the company's computer system and dealing with lawsuits, investigations, and other claims, according to the Boston Globe.

But some security specialists say the total bill could be even higher, depending on the outcome of litigation and government investigations. A national criminal investigation continues, although a joint federal and state prosecution in Florida has resulted in guilty pleas by six individuals. Ongoing civil litigation includes a federal case in Boston by trade groups seeking reimbursement for the cost of replacing customer cards. TJX says this suit is unfounded.

The breach reportedly occurred after unnamed hackers installed software on the company's computer network to capture data from customer accounts. Some stolen account numbers were used to make forged copies of credit cards, which allegedly were were used to buy expensive electronics from Wal-Mart and other retailers, explains the Globe.

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