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In the wake of dozens of high profile breaches of consumer information at retail establishments including Target and Neiman Marcus, the National Retail Federation has announced it intends on establishing the first information sharing platform dedicated to the retail space.

The initiative will be undertaken in conjunction with the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) and seeks to provide retail industry information security specialists the means to share threat intelligence and mitigation best practices, and will result in a retail ISAC by summer.

“We believe a heightened and well coordinated information sharing platform such as a retail ISAC is a vital component for helping retailers in their fight against cyber attacks,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

“Establishing a new program takes time, but time is not our friend when it comes to stopping these sophisticated and unpredictable criminals. The willingness of the FS-ISAC to work with retailers provides our industry with a new and important tool as we explore all of the options available for merchants to protect their customers and their businesses.”

The establishment of a retail ISAC is also supported by NRF CIO Council, a think tank comprised of CIOs and other information security pros who work in the retail sector and represent over 120 retail chains and supporting businesses.

“As an industry, it is critically important that we continue to work together and identify problems while providing solutions that prevent criminal hacking and the resulting data breaches,” said Cy Fenton, chairman of the IT Security Council, a sub-committee of the NRF CIO Council. “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.”

The NRF has been consulting with the United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies who are providing guidance on how to better communication channels, utilize established resources and collaborate more effectively in sharing threat intelligence across the retail sector.

“In partnership with key stakeholders, NRF is committed to finding broad-based, long-term solutions to ensure that consumers’ sensitive information remains secure. It is a retailer’s top priority,” Shay said.

“Implementing robust security solutions with innovative technologies and information sharing to protect consumer data and the integrity of our payment systems is a start, but we will always need to stay one step ahead of these determined criminals.”

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