Thursday, May 22, 2008

TJX vs. CrYpTiC_MauleR

rsnake reported today that TJX has fired an employee who goes by the handle CrYpTiC_MauleR. He was apparently fired for disparaging remarks he left on a message board.

So who is CrYpTiC_MauleR and why should you care? He's some college kid working a retail job at TJ Maxx, and you probably shouldn't. Unless you're TJX, that is. And not for the reasons you might think.

Sure, this kind of thing is bad PR for TJX coming and going. And sure, it's disloyal and immature of an employee to trash his employer to the public, especially when it exposes their security vulnerabilities to self-proclaimed hackers. So you might think that firing this guy is an appropriate response. And maybe it is. But I don't think so.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't believe for a second that this guy is an actual whistleblower. PCI's not a law, and rsnake isn't a regulatory or law-enforcement agency (that I know of), so what he did doesn't even approach whistleblower status. But his now-public firing is going to have a stifling effect on employees, both retail and corporate. And that is a failure of TJX's security program (one of many if you believe CrYpTiC_MauleR).

The thing is, a company needs to have a method of intaking security concerns from staff, and whatever that looks like needs to be communicated to staff, especially from company leadership, like the loss prevention exec that CrYpTiC_MauleR claims to have spoken to. Firing this kid for airing his concerns to the only people that would listen to him is certainly TJX's perrogative and not at all unexpected, really. But it also points out that the culture that allowed the initial breach to occur in the first place hasn't changed.

I've suggested before that TJX could stand to purge themselves. This only reinforces that opinion. If TJX can't change its overall security culture, it's only a matter of months before they're all over the news again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, PCI contractual obligations as enforced by VISA and MC fall under the internal controls covered by Sarbanes-Oxley, so in this case, as TJX is publicly traded, PCI compliance is (or should be) covered by law. Generally, in the annual 10K audits submitted to the SEC, non-compliance with VISA/MC contractual requirements (including PCI) as well any state and federal law (which includes financial privacy laws) are listed as significant risks - thereby non-compliance should be a reportable issue under SOX at least. nellwal -