These Target Experts are Sharing Their Cyber Smarts to Keep the Industry Secure

  • Nov 13, 2019
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Target’s cybersecurity team of hundreds of experts works round the clock to keep our company and guests’ data secure. Over the past handful of years, they’ve paved the way as Target built a strong cybersecurity “muscle”—investing significantly in resources (like tools, systems, teams and trainings) and forging partnerships with other companies and industry groups.

Check out a few recent examples of how our team collaborates with partners to encourage diversity across the cybersecurity field, and help the rest of the industry develop stronger skills and capabilities. 

Putting our plans to the test

With the technology landscape growing more complex than ever, it’s important to be well-trained and ready to respond to any situation. That’s serious business, but our teams stay on their toes with a simple process … and a bit of game time.

Jodie Kautt, vice president of cybersecurity, shared a closer look at how Target pressure-tests their process at this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration. It’s the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, and a place where the next generation of tech talent goes to learn and network. She was among the six Target team members chosen to speak this year on topics ranging from building a team of diverse leaders to in-store tech solutions.

A few years ago, the Target cybersecurity team put a simple framework in place that outlines steps for mitigating incidents when they pop up. And they regularly host “war game” simulations that mimic real-life cyber threats to help leaders and teammates practice their skills under pressure. Participants act out their roles as they would in a real scenario—discussing, gathering info, making decisions and creating materials and reports. Everyone stays in character until the group reaches a resolution.

“Running these simulations is an important way to make sure everyone understands their roles and how to work together,” Jodie says. “We design our simulations deliberately to create scenarios that challenge our teams to think in different ways, and we always learn something new.”

The keys to effective communication

As new cybersecurity risks arise, it’s important for organizations to grow and adapt their defenses so they can stay three (or more) steps ahead. But smart decisions can’t happen without strong communication between teams. Brenda Bjerke, senior director of information risk management, moderated a panel of experts at the Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) National Conference, who discussed how their teams look to the future.

Among the takeaways? Don’t underestimate the importance of women supporting other women. Mentor, build and utilize a network and lift up the next generation of leaders. And one way to stand out among the rest? Brush up on your skills in clearly communicating complicated technical challenges to a non-technical audience.

The work will never be done, but our cybersecurity team is always up to the challenge. They’ll continue sharing important learnings with others, and industry partners have recognized their efforts. A few examples? Target recently received the EWF’s corporate award, recognizing our support for women in technology. And at this year’s Retail Cyber Intelligence Summit, they won the Retail & Hospitality ISAC’s Peer Choice Award for Cybersecurity Team of the Year for the third year in a row.

Thinking about joining Target’s technology team? Visit our Careers pages to explore available roles and apply, and meet more of our team members on the Pulse Blog.

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