The Big Target Data Breach 2020: What We Learned

May 24, 2022

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On December 19, the retailer stated that as many as 40 million credit card and debit card accounts may have been compromised during Black Friday weekend through December 15, and that data stolen included customer names, credit card or debit card numbers, the card expiration dates and CVV (Card Verification Value). The Target data breach 2020 was a huge hit for the brand.

In an update on the hacking investigation, Target stated that an additional 70 million people have been affected, and the stolen customer data contains names, mailing addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses. Target stated that a lot of this information is “partial in nature,” however it’s going to nonetheless provide one year of free credit monitoring and id theft protection to all visitors who shopped at its U.S. stores.

Because of the incident, Target is lowering its fourth-quarter 2013 earnings guidance, saying that it expects fourth-quarter earnings to fall within the range of $1.20 to $1.30 per share, down from the previously announced range of $1.50 to $1.60 per share.

The retailer additionally adjusted its sales outlook, now saying that it expects a comparable sales decline of 2.5%, versus its prior guidance of flat comparable sales. Target stated this expectation contains “meaningfully weaker-than-expected sales since the announcement, which have shown improvement within the final several days” and a comparable sales decline of 2% to 6% for the interval in the quarter following the announcement of the data breach.

What Do I Need to Know About the Target Data Breach of 2020?

Target confirmed reports that the company’s safety systems had been breached, permitting hackers to access up to 40 million credit card and debit card accounts. Customers who shopped at Target stores, not the retailer’s online website, between November 27 and December 15 could also be affected.

Target stated in a press release that it started investigating the incident as quickly as it was found, together with contacting credit card issuers, financial institutions, and the authorities. Target didn’t specify the way it was hacked, however, security experts consider hackers targeted the retailer’s point-of-sale system, either by slipping malware into the terminals or gathering customer data as it made its approach to credit card processors, CNN reported.

A day after the announcement, cyber-security researcher Brian Krebs, who broke the initial story, introduced he had already tracked down counterfeit cards made using info stolen in the Target data breach. He stated the cards have been flooding underground black markets, selling for $20 to $100 per card.

While the retailer stressed that only in-store clients have been affected and outside sources no longer have access to their systems and user data, what does this mean for you in case you were buying at Target for a good deal ahead of the holidays?

What Target Did Wrong

How a company responds to a malware infection makes a considerable difference in how an attack might affect its clients and business. The Initial response is essential to the minimizing of a malware attack and can be one of many areas where Target underperformed.

Target missed several inner alerts and only found their breach when contacted by the Department of Justice. Their monitoring software program (FireEye) alerted Target employees in Bangalore, India, who in turn notified employees in Minneapolis: however, no action was taken.

Even if Target reportedly spent a big sum on security training, and technology using encryption, their data was accessed in memory where it was unencrypted.

Damages to the Company

While the consequences of the breach are everlasting on Target’s security solutions, the company confronted major losses at the time of incidence, setting them back greatly through the holiday season. After earnings dropped 46 % throughout Q4 of 2013, customer visits plunged during the new yr, prolonging Target’s losses.

High-ranking staff, including Target’s CEO, lost their jobs, and over 140 lawsuits have been filed in three years. The Huffington Post estimates the breach had a price of $252 million before the lawsuit, including the prices for banks to reissue 21.8 million cards.

A Few of the Less-Reported Numbers Related to this Epic Breach.

  • 40 million – The number of total credit card data and debit cards thieves stole from Target between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013.
  • 70 million – The number of records that thieves stole, including the name, address, e-mail address, and phone numbers of Target affected customers.
  • 46 – The percentage drop in earnings at Target in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with the 12 months before.
  • 200 million – Estimated dollar cost to credit unions and community banks for reissuing 21.8 million cards about half of the total stolen in the Target breach.
  • 100 million – The number of dollars Target says it is going to spend upgrading its payment terminals to support Chip-and-PIN enabled cards.
  • 0 – The number of customer cards that Chip-and-PIN-enabled terminals would have been capable of stopping the bad guys from stealing had Target put the technology in place prior to the data breach (without end-to-end encryption of card information, the card numbers and card expiration dates can still be stolen and used).
  • 0 – The number of people in Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or Chief Security Officer (CSO) jobs at Target (based on the AP).
  • 18.00 – 35.70 – The median price range per card stolen from Target and resold on the black market (range covers the median card price on Feb. 19, 2014, vs. Dec. 19, 2013, respectively).
  • 1 million – 3 million – The estimated number of credit and debit cards were stolen from Target that has been successfully sold on the black market and used for fraud before issuing banks received around to canceling the rest (primarily based on interviews with three different banks, which discovered that between 3-7 % of all cards they were told by Visa/MasterCard have been compromised actually ended up experiencing fraud).
  • 53.7 million – The earnings that hackers probably generated from the sale of two million cards stolen from Target and sold at the mid-range price of $26.85 on the black market (the median price between $18.00 and $35.70).
  • 55 million – The number of dollars outgoing CEO Gregg Steinhafel stands to reap in executive compensation and other advantages on his departure as Target’s chief executive.

How Did Target Handle the Data Breach?

Targets incident response with the data breach very effectively, all things considered. It was in a position to notify clients about twenty days after the breach occurred, but only 4 days after they have seen it. Within the wide spectrum of data breaches, that is very fast. The problem is that the data breach occurred at all. Target might, and should, have been more cautious about its third-party solutions and there have been internal issues that needed to be resolved.

Following the data breach, Target did problems with more secure chip-and-pin cards. They found that chips alone weren’t enough to secure most of the cards that had been compromised, although customers learned a lesson too credit cards are far more secure than debit cards. With credit cards, it’s simpler to overturn a transaction, and a fake transaction doesn’t leave you without cash.

A “Chip and pin” card is inherently more secure because it implies that somebody with only a name, card number, and address normally can’t perform transactions. But that wasn’t an all-around solution. Enough data had been stolen that client identities might potentially be compromised, regardless if the debit and credit cards have been secured. And identity theft could be a much larger problem than a single compromised card.

What Could Target Have Done Better

Target had offered a portal through which third-party vendors might access data. Sadly, a compromise to this third-party solution made it possible to jump into Target’s own network. If Target had correctly segregated its commercial cloud services and network, it could have been a lot harder for a cyber-attack of this magnitude to have occurred by using command-and-control IP addresses.

However realistically, networks are giant. Target Company could have prevented this data breach, however, cybercriminals are all over the place and they’re persistent. Many companies aren’t just improving their security and shutting their gaps but are additionally investing in cybercrime insurance. This protects them on the occasion that a data breach does happen.

How can I check if my Data Was Breached During a Target Hack?

For those who shopped at Target with a debit card or credit card during the affected time period, Target sent out letters to everybody who was affected by the data breach. In case you shopped at any Target stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 18, 2013, you should also review your credit card and bank statements from that time period to search for suspicious expenses.

The time to file a claim has passed, but you may be capable to take legal action if you weren’t notified, and you have been affected by the Target hack.

It’s also possible to call Target directly at 866-852-8680. Target REDcard holders have been also affected, as well as customers at all 1,800 stores in the USA.

What Should I do if my Data Was Breached During the Target Hack?

Federal protections are different between credit cards and debit cards. While credit card customers’ exposure is capped at $50 if they report the fraud within 60 days, debit card customers don’t enjoy such strong protection, and the account balance is far weaker.

“In case you used a debit card rather than a credit card at Target through the affected time period, it’s a good suggestion to contact your bank and cancel the card. “ says Christine Layton, an expert at

J.P. Morgan Chase has introduced that they’ve lowered the daily withdrawal and buy limits for customers whose cards have been affected by the breach. That is only expected to be a temporary measure while new cards are being issued.

Be Vigilant for Signs of Fraud

In breaches, these massive, more credit cards are stolen than thieves can use. It’s estimated that about 5% of the cards stolen will probably be used, or about 2 million cards.

Check your credit card statement or bank statement for any suspicious fraudulent activity. Keep in mind these identity thieves won’t necessarily make large, noticeable purchases; many try to make smaller purchases over a long time period that you’re less likely to notice.

Report fraud or suspicious activity to your financial institution or credit card issuer immediately. It’s also possible to sign up for a fraud monitoring service, which is normally free, as it could take months to notice any indicators of fraud.

You may as well report detected fraud to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-438-4338 or online.

If you know you’ve been the victim of fraud or identity theft, it’s really helpful that you place a fraud alert on your credit report, which is free and will be active for 90 days. This can make it harder for thieves to open new accounts in your name by requiring companies to confirm your identity before issuing credit.

Tell Me the Best Way to Protect Yourself When Shopping at Retail Stores?

While they could make some customers feel helpless against faceless thieves, there are steps you need to take to protect yourself against fraudulent expenses and identity theft. The bad information for customers? The expanding scope of the theft raises the danger that somebody might be victimized.

Because of this, customers should continue to be vigilant in monitoring their credit card and bank accounts, as well as to be suspicious of any emails or calls from individuals claiming to represent retailers or banks.

It’s additionally necessary to keep in mind that a retailer’s legal responsibility is just to report the data loss to customers, credit bureaus, and state regulators. Retailers aren’t legally required to offer credit-protection services to customers, Brian Lapidus, managing senior director, and information security practice leader at Kroll, informed CBS MoneyWatch in an email.

Because the story of how hackers stole confidential data from Target continues to escalate, some persons are vowing to only use the money for purchases, given the risk of credit card fraud. But Lapidus notes that customers shouldn’t quit on plastic.

“Cash might be lost or stolen with little or no recourse,” he wrote. “I’d rather use a credit card which has protections afforded to the cardholder if the card number is used without his/her authority.”

But customers do need to be ready for the worst, stated Yaron Samid, CEO of financial planning software maker BillGuard. “It looks as if right now there’s almost an epidemic of malware at point-of-sale terminals,” he stated.

In today’s surroundings, “It’s only a matter of time before your info is compromised.”

Beneath are 9 suggestions gleaned from three security experts interviewed by CBS MoneyWatch on the right way to protect yourself amid the rising security threat.

  1. Check your credit card and debit card statements on a daily basis. “There’s absolutely no substitute for being vigilant,” Samid stated. Thieves might place a small charge of just a dollar or two to verify if the card is active. Because of this, report any questionable charge, regardless of how small.
  2. In case you discover an unauthorized charge, ask your bank to cancel the credit or debit card and issue you a brand new one. “That is most advisable with a debit card,” Kroll’s Lapidus stated.
  3. Think about tools for monitoring both your credit card profile and your card activity. Target is providing a credit-monitoring service for customers, which Lapidus believes affected people should enroll in. Customers might also wish to use a bill-monitoring service similar to BillGuard, which uses crowdsourcing to flag suspicious charges. The service has caught $60 million in fraudulent expenses during the previous two years, Samid stated.
  4. Be suspicious of correspondence claiming to be from your bank or the retailer you shopped at. As a result of Target’s security breach additionally including theft of personal information, it’s more probably the thieves will use “phishing” to convince you to part with much more sensitive info, such as passwords.
  5. Phishing isn’t only done through the telephone and email. Scams additionally abound on Twitter and Facebook. For example, already a “phishing” tweet purporting to offer a link to verify if you were a victim of the breach has surfaced, Samid stated. When you click on it, it asks you to re-enter your Twitter password. This might end up as a serious financial problem in case you use the same password for your bank accounts as password protection.
  6. Double-check the website URL of the bank or retailer in any correspondence you receive. If it doesn’t look proper, don’t click on it. Better yet, enter your bank’s URL in a separate browser window, to make sure you are reaching your bank website and not a scam website.
  7. Change your passwords. An astounding number of individuals use easy passwords like “password” or “1234” for their accounts, notes Neil Chase of Lifelock, which provides identity-theft protection services. Some customers might wish to use a password generator, although, for most individuals changing their passwords to include capital letters, symbols or numbers could also be enough.
  8. Shred documents. While the main focus in Target’s security breach has been on electronic theft of data, criminals still steal physical documents, Chase stated. Keep in mind to keep all of your data secure, not just your online data.
  9. Remember in case you start receiving unusual pieces of mail, Kroll’s Lapidus stated. While it might imply nothing, it might also “be an indication that data has been compromised.”

The bottom line is that credit monitoring is only a part of the solution, stated Kroll’s Lapidus. “Passwords, PINs, and so on, have nothing to do with credit monitoring. Customers need different tools outside of monitoring,” he wrote. “Commerce is protected, but vigilance is paramount.”

Some might consider that living off the grid could be the only solution, however, that is not so easily achieved nowadays. As such, customers need to understand that data security requires them to be prepared and not rely only on banks to protect them.

“Realistically, we need to live more freely, do our banking from the coffee shop via Wifi,” Chase stated. “We need to put our birthdays on Facebook despite the fact that” that may help thieves sniff out your full birthdate. He added, “It’s a balancing act to be as secure as you can be.”

Frequently Asked Questions

When Did Data Breaches Begin?

A rise in public- disclosure of data breaches emerged from the Nineteen Eighties, while the public grew to become aware of e, publicly-disclosed data breaches increased in frequency within the Nineteen Eighties, and awareness of data breaches grew within the early 2000s.

Why Did The Target Data Breach Happen?

A security breach at Target had happened in late January, during which hackers had stolen credentials from a vendor, in violation of Target’s privacy policy. Last week, Fazio Mechanical Services announced it had suffered a “sophisticated cyber-attack.”.

Did Target Have A Data Breach 2020?

A total of 40 to 70 million payment card accounts have been compromised and customer info has been disclosed in the Target breach. As a part of its statement, Fazio Mechanical Services talked about how the company suffered a sophisticated cyber-attack like Target.

What Vulnerability Caused The Target Data Breach?

It’s believed that Target’s vendor violated its security by not offering an adequate anti-malware software program and failing to segregate its customer’s info between its data and another network. Some highlights from the experience: Target wasn’t in a position to defend its systems from phishing attacks as a result they didn’t know the way to do this.

Where Does Data Breach Happen?

Data breaches are the results of malicious cyber cybercriminals successfully penetrating a data source and stealing proprietary data. Remotely bypassing security on an inside network or physically accessing access to a pc might allow you to steal local information.

Are Data Breaches On The Rise?

The report says that the number of data breaches on which authorities acted reached an all-time high of 68 % last yr. In its report on the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Defending Against It 2016 Data Breach Report, the Center discovered that 1,862 data breaches occurred the last yr, topping earlier records of 1,108 for 2020 and 1,506 for 2017.


It’s necessary for merchants to know that the range of security threats could be wider than standard PCI compliance. Monitoring networks and paying attention to disruptive or unusual patterns in a system’s network is essential to protecting their systems – and in turn, customer information. Target is only one of many companies to have confronted a serious data breach. Be sure your company or business is protecting your clients the most effective they can.

There isn’t a silver bullet in our online world against data breaches. With the growing amount of data leak incidents lately, you will need to analyze the weak points in our systems, strategies, and legislations and seek solutions to the problem. In this paper, we introduced a comprehensive analysis of the Target data breach.

We described several security tips to boost security in merchants’ systems. We presented state-of-the-art credit card security techniques and gave customers best practices to hide card info during purchase transactions.

Looking for more ways to protect your reputation? Contact us now!


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