For Target, Holiday Woes Are Worse Than Expected

Target announced that the data breach late last year was even worse than originally reported. Personal information, including phone numbers and email addresses, from as many as 70 million customers may have been compromised. On top of that, Target says that the revelation of the data breach depressed fourth-quarter sales during the holiday season.

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The retail giant Target delivered more bad news today. The company was the victim of a massive security breach before Christmas, and today it announced that that cyber-attack was much worse than originally reported. NPR's Sonari Glinton explains.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Starting on Black Friday, hackers were able to break into Target's internal systems. The company didn't find out about it for weeks. At first, Target said as many as 40 million credit and debit card numbers had been compromised. Today, the company said the personal information of 70 million customers had also been involved. That's things like names, phone numbers, mailing and email addresses. Brian Krebs is a security blogger who first broke the story of the breach.

BRIAN KREBS: It more or less guarantees that the people whose information is breached are going to get more solicitations. They're going to get more phishing attacks because that information is going to trickle down to other miscreants in the underground to typically buy huge lists of email addresses.

GLINTON: Target's CEO apologized for the breach and offered credit monitoring and identity theft protection for consumers for the next year. At the same time, the company's stock took a hit and it lowered projections for future earnings as well.

HOWARD DAVIDOWITZ: It's always an opportunity for other people. When Target falls on its face - and it did - you've got other retailers appealing to the middle class.

GLINTON: Howard Davidowitz is a retail consultant and investment banker. He says this is going to cost Target hundreds of millions of dollars at a hard time for retailers.

DAVIDOWITZ: But I don't this is going to be a long-term damage to a very a solid business. I think, also, people know the world we live in.

GLINTON: That's a world where everyone is under the constant threat of identity theft. Davidowitz says you should probably check your credit report even if you didn't shop at Target over the holidays. He just did. Sonari Glinton, NPR News, Culver City.

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