January 19, 2014

I have a question for Lee Schafer of the STRIB who is representative of one of many reporters continuing to diss Target and its president for a slow and uninformative response to its recent customer data breach.

Your description of the incident, although very detailed, did not mention the Federal Alert that was sent to Target and many other retailers advising that their customer systems may have been compromised by Koptaxa.  A recent STRIB article reported that Target’s timeline of announcement came on the same day as they received the government announcement.

Were you able to verify that as earlier reported, Target did indeed discover the breach on the same day they received the alert from the US government?    You describe Target as “playing it safe”; but make no mention of any directions from the federal government about what to look for, how to report it nor how to handle.

I ask only because other breaches were announced significantly later than Target – for instance, Neiman Marcus- who was alerted to the potential problem on the same day Target was  and yet, we have seen little criticism  of their slow response several days AFTER that of Target’s.

The STRIB also reported that several banking institutions were previously victims hit by this same  malware as far back as 2009.  I do my banking at one of those institutions, and the first I was aware of that breach was in the last week.  Now that is what I would call “playing it safe” as you have described Target doing.

You may be entirely correct to assume that Target’s appearance on CNBC was driven by investment concerns, but so far, I have seen little released on what these companies were instructed to do.

 For me that does not mean they showed no concern for their customers-it simply means the Press may not have (or are not sharing) all the facts.  Likewise, I believe the only retailer most recently impacted that is offering credit protection and other steps to help their customers deal with the crisis is Target…although several banking institutions are stepping up to the plate and reissuing cards….finally.

Instead of looking for things to criticize, I would think that have been enough books, publications, and discussions released over the last 5-6 years cautioning about potential dangers as we blindly move forward into a new century and a whole new digital age that it would be to the STRIB reader’s benefit to take advantage of this crisis with Target to share some of those discussions as well.   You might start with THE NEW DIGITAL AGE by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen.  It does not paint a totally positive picture, but it certainly gives every reader a wealth of “food for thought” on where we are headed.  Anyone who has read it is not surprised by NSA or this latest retail crisis.  


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