A security breach can impact retailers in a few different ways. Aside from having the information from credit card processing software stolen and used for identity theft or other criminal activity, businesses also take a hit in the reputation department.
We have been reporting on the Target breach for two months. With each new revelation, the way consumers think about the company gets a little worse, and with good reason. This was reflected not only on social media, but also in the sales numbers.
This week, Target released its latest earnings report. According to Gregg Steinhafel, Target's chief executive, the first half of the quarter was strong as consumers were hitting stores to make their holiday purchases. In fact, marketing plans were projecting better-that-expected sales numbers. However, following the announcement of the data breach, "results softened meaningfully."
How much so? In the final quarter of 2012, Target racked up $961 million in sales. In the 2013 quarterly report, those numbers dropped 46 percent to $520 million. Shares also fell from $1.47 to 81 cents year-over-year.
On top of dropping sales, the company is also facing a rising cost of overcoming this breach. So far, the organization has spent $61 million, and with potential legislation, fraud claims and additional investigative fees, this number could climb even higher.
"These costs may have a material adverse effect on Target's results of operations," the company said.
Every company needs to ensure that its point of sale system and network are secure and this is the perfect example as to why.