Target CEO Speaks Out about Massive Data Breach

Updated: 01/13/2014 7:40 PM By: Jennie Olson

Gregg Steinhafel, Target Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Gregg Steinhafel, Target Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

We’re learning more about the massive data breach at Target from CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

In a multi-part interview with CNBC, he answered questions about the breach, in which the personal information from as many as 70 million customers was stolen during the holiday shopping rush.

In the interview, Steinhafel said he was at home having coffee with his wife when he first learned of the breach. He said the news “felt like a punch in the gut” and that he’s had many sleepless nights because of it.
Steinhafel also described a timeline of what happened after the breach, saying that the first day they confirmed the breach they focused on making sure the system was safe for shoppers. On the second day, they started investigating, and on the third day they worked to prepare stores and call centers for customer complaints.

On the fourth day they finally told the public.

The CEO also addressed the very long wait times customers had when they did call in for help.

"The call center experience initially was unacceptable, and for that I apologize," Steinhafel said. "We had an overwhelming number of calls, as you can appreciate. But we’ve made fantastic progress since then, and as of Friday our wait times were only 8 seconds."

Steinhafel penned an open letter to the public on the company’s website. In the letter, he reassures customers that the company is doing everything they can to make sure a breach like this never happens again.

He says they have closed the access point the hackers used and removed malware, hired a team of data security experts to investigate how it happened, reassured customers that they will have no liability for fraudulent charges, and offered one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection.

"We want to earn back your trust and confidence and ensure that we deliver the Target experience you know and love," Steinhafel said in the letter. "We are determined to make things right, and we will."

While some customers may take time to warm back up to the retailer, others are ready to let bygones be bygones.

KSTP spoke with Kendal Orgera, a customer who spotted more than $700 worth of fraudulent activity on her debit card as a result of the security breach. When asked if her confidence in Target was still high, she responded simply 'Yeah. I love Target. I only shop here."