When it comes to putting data and identity thieves in their place, Peter Costa says there’s no room for being Mr. Nice Guy.

“Have a public hanging… they have to know you’ll go after them,” says Costa, who heads up enterprise security at GE Consumer Finance – Americas. He says companies need to be “fanatical about prosecution”.

Costa outlined his views (which he stressed are not all necessarily those of GE) during a recent CIO Forum in the U.S.

GE will actually call the parole board when a thief’s hearing is coming up to discourage the person’s release, Costa says. Before prosecution, GE will wrap up a case as tightly as it can to ensure that law enforcement takes identity and data theft seriously. “You’ve got to make a point,” he says.

Costa maintains that there hasn’t been an explosion of data theft of late, but rather, we’re just hearing about it now as a result of laws that require companies to fess up when their data systems have been breached. Nevertheless, data and identify theft are huge problems that companies need to address by assessing risks and reducing them, he says.

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