In the midst of one of the most wide-reaching data breaches in recent history -- and a mounting avalanche of seething press -- what's a beleaguered CEO to do?
Target chief Gregg Steinhafel appeared on CNBC this morning in his first live interview since the hack job that reportedly affected up to 110 million consumers, apologizing for the incident and vowing that the retailer would assume full responsibility.
"We're being accountable, responsible and I'm personally very sorry that this whole event even happened," Steinhafel said. He added that Target would pay for any fraudulent charges that had transpired as a result of the breach, as well as offer free credit monitoring services to affected guests for up to one year.
Steinhafel likened being informed of the breach one Sunday morning to "a real punch in the gut," but insisted that regaining consumer confidence was of primary concern. "We know that our guests' trust in us is shaken," Steinhafel said, "but we also know they love our stores, they love our brand, and we're going to learn from this experience and work really hard to become an even better retailer over time."
Unfortunately, it would seem as though Target is not alone in experiencing a data breach this holiday season. Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus reported over the weekend that credit-card information from its customers had also been compromised.
Informed mid-December by its credit card processor of potentially unauthorized charges, a forensic firm discovered on Jan. 1 that the retailer had indeed been hacked, the company told computer security and cybercrime blog Krebs on Security.
Although it did not disclose how many customers may have been affected, the company said on Twitter that it is "taking steps, where possible, to notify customers whose cards we know were used fraudulently after purchasing at our stores."