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Target Misses the Mark in Response to Data Breach

Target Misses the Mark in Response to Data Breach

Historically, the thought of sharing a credit card number to make purchases over the internet has made more than a few shoppers uneasy. While our comfort with online shopping has certainly grown, as evidenced by the $2.29 billion in online sales on Cyber Monday alone, there are still a fair amount of individuals who have their doubts about the security of online platforms and prefer to do their shopping in stores. However, Target’s latest scandal proves that these shoppers have just as much, if not more, to be worried about.

The Situation

This morning Target confirmed that they experienced a data breach affecting an estimated 40,000 card devices at Target registers and up to 40 million debit and credit card accounts nationwide. It is thought that cybercriminals attached the point-of-sale software, gaining access to card numbers, expiration dates and potentially PINs of cards used at Target registers. Though Target representatives state that “the issues has been identified and resolved,” individuals who shopped at Target stores between November 27th and December 15th should change their PINs and monitor their credit and debit accounts to ensure that there are no unauthorized charges. Target continues to investigate the breach with both a third-party financial and the Secret Service.

Our Take

The first thing we did when we heard the news of the breach – well, after checking our debit and credit accounts of course – was check Target’s social media platforms to see how they are handling the scandal. In two words, the answer is: not well.
The company’s Twitter has a mere two tweets addressing the situation, as seen below, and there are no posts on their Facebook page regarding the breach. There are, however, countless posts from Target fans demanding answers, which seem to be in short supply as these posts have yet to be addressed by a company representative.


Here are just a few posts from “Fans” on the Company’s Facebook page:


The Moral

Yes, we should be able to trust that our financial information is safe with the stores that we shop in, however, we need to understand that as security measures strengthen, so do the skills of hackers and other cybercriminals. Targets biggest fault here is their reactive, delayed response to the scandal. Getting out in front of this issue by warning their customers as soon as they had knowledge of the breach and designating a staff to acknowledge and reply to social media comments and complaints would have gone a long way in winning the forgiveness of their disappointed customers. In the age of social media, these platforms cannot be ignored in the face of scandals.

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