Target CEO 'still shaken,' vows to earn back customer trust


Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel emerged Sunday on CNBC with frank comments about a holiday-season data breach that may have compromised the personal information of as many as 110 million customers.

"We have to do everything possible to make it right by every guest and earn that trust back," the CEO told CNBC in an interview that runs more than half an hour.

In his first interview since Friday, when Target revealed that the breach was far larger than initially believed, Steinhafel said that he was "still shaken" by the news of the breach, even a month later. He was first informed of it on Sunday, Dec. 15, as he sat with his wife drinking coffee.

"My heart sunk," Steinhafel said.

The CEO of the Minneapolis-based retailer said he has had many sleepless nights but that he would not rest "until we get it right and we regain the trust of our guest. And we're gonna be better as a result of this."

At the time, with just 10 days left in the all-important holiday shopping season, Target investigators believed that the credit and debit card data for about 40 million customers had been accessed by hackers.

On Friday, Target acknowledged in a press release that the breach was far wider – that 70 million additional customers may have had their personal information compromised, including email and home addresses and phone numbers. Some of those 70 million may not have even shopped at Target during the time of the breach, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15, CNBC notes.

Target officials say there may be some overlap between the 70 million and the 40 million numbers.

Target has stressed that customers will not be responsible for fraudulent purchases made as a result of the data breach.

Steinhafel told CNBC customers have every right to be frustrated. He said he has read many emails from customers, some supportive of Target and others with "fairly poorly chosen words to describe Target and myself."

Over the weekend, it was revealed that another data breach affected Neiman Marcus customers.

Brian Krebs, the former Washington Post reporter-turned-security blogger, says customers are hearing more about the breaches now.

"My sense in talking to folks in the financial industry, I'm surprised that many of them are a bit nonchalant and some of them have told me, you know, I don't know why everybody is so upset about these. You know, these things happen all the time and they never get reported," Krebs told NPR on Sunday.

Krebs added that he expects a lot more disclosures of data breaches from retailers to come.

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