Breach, Data Security

All apologies as they drain you again

Some local North and South End residents born and bred in these historical areas of Boston have a funny moniker for newcomers to their neighborhoods since becoming a bit displeased by the gentrification of their traditionally tight-knit communities. They call them DINKs. For those of you unfamiliar with this clever acronym – which carries with it a negative connotation depending on the person from whose lips it falls – it means double (or dual) income, no kids.

My husband's family rooted itself in the North End when they immigrated here and spread out from there, so while we love to hang out in that section of Beantown, we have no plans to move there. Nonetheless, we're DINKs and, like most good DINKs, hit up Target store every once in awhile.

Ah, Target, with its 100 million-strong (and perhaps counting) credit card and PIN compromise, plus its lackluster follow-up to the public-at-large and the individuals affected. Having recently put out some full-page ads in major newspapers across the country, they've assured us all that they take cyber security very seriously, noting that, indeed, it's a big thing now. (Betcha' you guys didn't know that, huh?) As a result, they're investing some $5 million in a cyber security coalition whose members – among them Target, of course, the Better Business Bureau and some others – will be researching today's dastardly cyber crimes and then educating us, the masses, about ways we can avoid becoming victims. 

And, yes, they went into wee bits of agonizing detail about other efforts their multi-million-buck group intends to undertake, but, damn, guys, I can't recall them all as my mind wandered a bit reading this PR drivel, swiftly carrying me back to the 1990s. In my mind's eye, I was excitedly conversing with a friend and was all, “Dude, Nirvana was crazy last night? That Kurt Cobain is a beast. When are we hitting up the Milk Bar next? Call me!” Note, in my memory I wasn't asking my bud to text me because only the old guard-types still clinging to the “80s greed culture” had mobile devices as part of their uniforms… along with Saabs, I think.

But, I digress. Let's get back to the big spend on cyber security now being made by Target and the personal follow-up email to this journalist DINK, no doubt now one of many shoppers wondering why the hell I was frequenting this store right before the holidays anyway. The “Important message from Target to our guests” had me cringing, especially since it only made its way to my inbox on Jan. 15. Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said he first learned about the breach on Dec. 15 and the story broke the on the 18th. Well before 2014, I, like others I'm sure, already had cancelled and replaced my stolen card.

Am I being too hard? Am I sounding just as jaded as Southie or North End homeowners ruing the day DINKs began the pilgrimage into their neighborhoods? I mean, Target is promising millions of spend on cyber security now. And, they did offer me and the legions of others whose cards were stolen free credit monitoring for a year – the must-do action most retailers take after it's discovered that their security controls are lacking – despite all the information and experience out there that now abounds about cyber attackers, the very successful methods they enlist and the countless organizations already compromised in similar ways by them. That's something, right? 

Nirvana's telling me to “Nevermind,” but I've moved on from the 1990s. Target and so many other retailers who have had to promise free credit monitoring to their compromised guests should, too.

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