American retail giant Target announced Monday that Gregg Steinhafel, CEO, President, and Chairman of the company, would be stepping down from all positions held at the retail behemoth, effective immediately. The news isn’t any real surprise to industry analysts and those inside the company. After Target lost credit and debit card information belonging to 40 million Americans in a three-week long security breach in December of 2013, Mr. Steinhafel’s face became tied to the event. His resignation is a sign that Target is looking for a clean slate.
Not only has the company struggled to shed the cloak of customer suspicion since the hacking scandal was revealed, it’s also struggling to recover from a shaky start in its expansion into Canada. With Target shares having fallen 3% since this morning, the company needs a boost badly. Steinhafel’s departure can , perhaps, give them that.
Target is Just One of Many Hit by Cyber-Attacks in the Last Six Months
Target is certainly not the first company to be hit by cybercriminals, and, undoubtedly, it won’t be the last. Arts and crafts retailer Michael’s only recently recovered from an eight-month stretch of data theft that affected more than 2.6 million American shoppers. The difference with Target, beyond the scope of the attack, is that the CEO of Michael’s remains at the head of the company. However, many say that Target ousting its CEO could be a sign of things to come as companies continue to let their digital security measures run lax. In other words, people will actually be held accountable for negligence.
Is Anything Being Done to Contain These Issues?
Realizing that billion dollar corporations aren’t quite up to the task of monitoring and avoiding these issues — not to mention letting those affected know of issues in a timely manner — the Obama Administration and many others on Capitol Hill are working on a series of so-called “Data-Theft Laws” in order to hold companies found guilty of neglecting security responsible when their customers are affected. Further, the laws will set up a security framework, giving these same companies better resources with which to alert their customers when there is an issue. It’s a situation that can adequately be summed up as better-late-than-never, but legislation coupled with corporate CEOs actually being held accountable when things go wrong is a definite sign of progress.