Let's be fair, Target has tried and tried to show full transparency in view of the massive credit card hack that it, and its customers, have suffered. The company is being apologetic. But, can it ever recover from something this huge, and it may not be over, yet.
Last week, after weeks of unfurling revelations, Target estimated that 110 million customer credit and debit card data may have been been stolen. That number exceeds the original estimate of 40 million.
40 million was horrendous. 110 million is apocalyptic.
And that's not all. The information stolen included physical addresses, emails, and even, phone numbers, on top of encrypted PIN data. So, the situation has now exceeded apocalyptic and just jumped straight to the Rapture.
My lady shops at Target all of the time. She doesn't now. And she is not the only one. Target saw its sales for the Holiday Season drop. That's its most important financial quarter. Since the initial disclosure of a hack was made on December 19, and it seems like we have had another piece of follow up bad news drop every week since, the drop in sales is only going to get worse. People are probably just beginning to realize how bad it was at Target. They're going to go into shock, if they haven't already.
Could Target have done anything about this situation?
You could argue that they did everything expected and didn't hide the facts and didn't try and make light of the situation. But the company was also concerned not to shoot itself in the foot during the Christmas shopping season so, it didn't exactly fortify its customers in that week leading up to December 25, and after its announcement.
The real problem here is that things keep getting worse as far as Target customers are concerned and they are getting smacked around the head every week with each new revelation. You keep hitting someone enough, no matter how lightly, and eventually they are going to go down.
110 million card details, PINs, addresses, emails, and phone numbers later, Target may have just dealt a knockout blow to its customers.
For sure, the situation is salvageable. Target can shore up its security and work harder than any company has ever had to do to prove to its customers that it has rectified its problems and has a plan to make sure it never happens again.
Frankly, they haven't done anywhere near enough to clarify why customers should trust them going forward.
Nevertheless, Target has a devoted fan base. The brand was pretty strong before all of this happened. People may have become numb to this kind of hacking news because there's news of some breach or other nearly every day.
And now, Neiman Marcus has put out a statement saying it, too, has been breached, and likely in a pretty bad way. According to a company statement:
Neiman Marcus was informed by our credit card processor in mid-December of potentially unauthorized payment card activity that occurred following customer purchases at our Neiman Marcus Group stores.
We informed federal law enforcement agencies and are working actively with the U.S. Secret Service, the payment brands, our credit card processor, a leading investigations, intelligence and risk management firm, and a leading forensics firm to investigate the situation. On January 1st, the forensics firm discovered evidence that the company was the victim of a criminal cyber-security intrusion and that some customers’ cards were possibly compromised as a result. We have begun to contain the intrusion and have taken significant steps to further enhance information security.
The security of our customers’ information is always a priority and we sincerely regret any inconvenience. We are taking steps, where possible, to notify customers whose cards we know were used fraudulently after making a purchase at our store.
Maybe the fact that Target is not alone in this situation will give comfort to its customers, make them more forgiving. But, man, this is scary stuff. It shakes your faith in the system completely. The answers are not out there when it comes to our digital wealth.