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FTC Chair Nominee and New Federal Reserve Chairman Each Mention Data Breaches as a Critical Concern

As the FTC considers and confirms nominees to fill vacant commission seats, those interviewed speak to the still growing threat of data breaches and say this is a top priority for the government agency. Meanwhile, the House Financial Services Committee asks new Fed Chairman Jerome Powell what approach he will take to secure data, following more than 50 data breaches involving the Federal Reserve in the last seven years.

In a Senate confirmation hearing with Joseph Simmons, one of three people recently nominated to chair the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the anti-trust lawyer spoke to the threat of data breaches that has continued to increase. “They’re becoming much more significant, much more frequent, and I think that’s a real serious concern for us and I think we need to pay much more attention to it,” Simmons said.

While still filling out the FTC board, chair nominees are already discussing their priorities, and early indications point towards a focus on data breaches. Whether this entails data breach reporting requirements, formally defined fines and penalties or increased requirements to protect data is yet to be seen, but likely on the agenda.

Jerome Powell, newly appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve, also discussed the pressing threat of cybersecurity and data breaches while answering questions from Georgia House Representative Barry Loudermilk. Rep. Loudermilk called to attention the fact that the Federal Reserve Board of Governors has experienced more than 50 data breaches since 2011. Powell assured the Fed would make protecting sensitive information a high priority and wouldn’t keep or collect sensitive information they no longer need. Regarding these data breaches with the Federal Reserve Powell admitted they “can certainly do better.”

In a list of “reminders” to Congress from the National Retail Federation (NRF), there are several ways the government could do better regarding data breaches and data security. Their list includes a recommendation to improve payment security requirements as a way of discouraging data breaches, and highlighting the fact banks are not required to disclose data breaches.

According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, there are a lot of business sectors that can do better when it comes to data security. While 12.4 percent of data breaches occur in the government sector, 24.3 percent are in the financial services sector and 15.3 percent are in healthcare. Retail is responsible for 4.8 percent of data breaches while hotels and restaurants represent 10.4 percent.

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