One estimate: Cost of Target data breach could hit $680 million

MinnPost photo by Rita Kovtun

It is the other “who” question in the Target data breach story … . At Reuters, David Henry and Karen Freifeld say: “The theft of credit and debit card data from 40 million Target Corp customers could end up costing hundreds of millions of dollars, but it is unclear who will bear the expense, lawyers and industry sources said. … For big data breaches, the total cost typically amounts to about $17 per account, said Larry Ponemon, whose Ponemon Institute researches data breaches. For the Target breach, that would bring the total cost of the incident to somewhere around $680 million.

Jayne O’Donnell for USA Today says: “The huge breach is the latest in a growing problem for retailers that’s increased as more companies outsource writing and maintaining software … Siobhan MacDermott, chief policy officer at computer security firm AVG Technologies … says that as retailers … rely more on data and glean more customer information, they increasingly become the targets of organized crime groups.” So if the mob siphons all $68.44 out of my checking account … I sue the out-source software maintenance company?

Strib coverage by Jennifer Bjorhus and Steve Alexander says: “The volume of people trying to access their Target Redcard account information online or to call customer service overwhelmed the company’s systems Thursday, adding frustration to the questions surrounding the huge attack. … Major card issuers such as Wells Fargo & Co. and Capital One Financial Corp. issued statements reminding cardholders that they are not responsible for fraudulent activity on their cards.”

At MPR, Annie Baxter says: “After Target confirmed the security breach on Thursday, many customers couldn’t access their account information to check for phony charges on their credit or debit cards. Its customer service phone line also was jammed. That drew the ire of customers who ranted on the company’s Facebook page and elsewhere, creating a public relations nightmare for the retailer during a crucial week for shoppers.”

They go together like bacon and eggs, April and rain … . Says Jon Collins at MPR: “Ramsey County authorities today charged a man who has ties to a white supremacist gang with illegal possession of firearms and methamphetamines. Samuel David Shoen, 35 … is facing three counts of illegal possession of firearms, wearing a bulletproof vest while committing a crime and possession of methamphetamines.” Did he have a copy of “The Turner Diaries” and a boxed set of “Duck Dynasty” Season One?

The Wilf family has a new opportunity to re-define “protracted legal action.” In the Newark Star-Ledger, Ben Horowitz reports: “Two business partners who sued the Wilf family over revenues from an apartment complex in Montville stand to receive more than $106 million, but won’t be seeing the money anytime soon. … Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson … agreed to delay requiring the Wilfs to give the money to Josef Halpern and Ada Reichmann until their appeal of her rulings is completed. Wilson estimated it will take three years to resolve the Wilfs’ appeal.”

Ponies are expensive toys … Colin Smith at WCCO-AM says: “The price of hay has more than tripled in the past six months, fueled by a shortage caused by a drought-plagued autumn and wet spring that diminished yield. The historic shortage has some agricultural and animal experts concerned that horses could be in for a long winter. ‘Farmers and ranchers are having a very difficult time finding feed and when they do they have absolutely sticker shock,’ said Krisona Martinson, an equine extension specialist at the University of Minnesota.”

You can imagine the spin and counter-spin in this one. Dave Shaffer of the Strib says: “Minnesota utility regulators on Thursday agreed to take a fresh look at whether the price of pollution is accurately reflected in the cost of electrical generating plants. The 4-1 vote by the state Public Utilities Commission sets in motion a lengthy and technical process to better calculate the social cost of smokestack emissions linked to climate change and human illnesses.”

It’d be nice if this happened more often … . Dave Chanen of the Strib says: “Two Twin Cities area lawyers have been accused … of knowingly presenting at a hearing false witness statements that their client, a convicted murderer, had obtained by bribery and intimidation. In a rare motion argued last week in Hennepin County District Court, County Attorney Mike Freeman demanded that lawyers Michael McGlennen and Zachary Longsdorf pay undisclosed litigation costs and invited the District Court, the Sheriff’s Office and the state Department of Corrections to recoup their expenses.” And maybe something like “Whiskey Plates” for their telephone greeting …

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Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Greg Price on 12/20/2013 - 07:49 am.

    Duck Dynasty reference ill advised

    The Duck Dynasty refernce was ill advised. There are many fans of the show…admittedly it is probably not your favorite. The inference that it is a favorite of knuckle dragging rednecks carrying illegal firearms and methamphetimines is probabably as inaccurate as my inference of the author of this column wearing paisley ties, penny loafers, and hanging out in coffee shops drinking frothy lattes.

    Admittedly both inferences are miles away from the actual truth but I make my point.

    And while we are on the subject…I really think it is amazingly hypocritical that AE network banished Phil Robertson from the show. They have made millions from this show and while I personally may not agree with all of Mr. Robertsons ideas on this subject…he has a constitutional right to express them. Even in maxi-liberal MN this is allowed…or has been to the “reigning” side of the political aisle.

    When the age of political correctness can inhibit free expression of one’s opinion…it is a sad day for this country.


    • Submitted by Brian Lambert on 12/20/2013 - 08:52 am.

      How can I work …

      … with an entire ultimo venti of froth coming out my nose? Very funny, sir.

      And touche.

    • Submitted by Steve Sundberg on 12/20/2013 - 09:25 am.

      re: Duck Dynasty

      Greg, the 1st amendment guarantees that the GOVERNMENT will not interfere with free speech. Says nothing about corporations … which, if you were fully aware, do have complete freedom to restrict free speech.

      Disney and Hearst (co-owners of A&E) made a business decision wrt Phil Robertson. Given Disney’s recent history re: gay rights, I am not surprised that they would continue to be extra-sensitive to the issue.

      As for Mr. Robertson, he did not have his freedom to speak impinged. He does, however, have to understand that free speech does have its consequences.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/20/2013 - 01:49 pm.


      I’ve never watched Duck Dynasty, and probably never will, so I really don’t care what happens to them. However, I think it’s important to remember that this is not a First Amendment issue. A&E is a private concern, and has the complete right to decide whom it will air. It is no more a free speech issue than it would be for Fox News to refuse to give Noam Chomsky his own show. A&E was deciding how they wanted to shape their corner of the marketplace, just as MSNBC was, when they fired Martin Bashir for comments that were equally protected by ideas of free speech.

      You do, indirectly, make a very good point, however. Private enterprise can be just as oppressive as the government. In fact, one could even argue that it’s worse. A private business is accountable to no one but its owners. A government (at least, in the US) is circumscribed by the Constitution. The decision-makers are accountable to the people, which limits their authority and their use of discretion. Whenever a libertarian rants about capitalism equaling freedom, that is an important point to remember.

      PS Someday, I’ll buy you a latte and you can tell me why it is bad for “political correctness,” which I take to mean public opinion or cultural attitudes, to inhibit racism and homophobic slurs.

  2. Submitted by Nathaniel Finch on 12/20/2013 - 09:51 am.

    Inhibiting free expression

    Nobody impeded Phil Robertson’s free expression. He said what he thought. But that doesn’t mean he should be free from any consequences of his speech. Speech has consequences. We all inhibit our speech in some circumstances because it’s in our best interests. We don’t tell the boss what we really think of his latest idea if it’s likely to get us fired. That’s just how the world works.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/20/2013 - 12:17 pm.

      Not exactly

      He was fired for expressing his religious beliefs and he did it on his own time, not A&E’s.

      If he was any other religion but Christian, A&E would be facing charges for discriminating against him for his religious views.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/20/2013 - 01:07 pm.

        Leap of faith

        The only remotely religious comments this man made were “But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical [referring to homosexuality]” and “They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues [in reference to pre-civil rights era blacks].”

        I understand continual victimization is a deeply-held belief of the American conservative. It is important, no, it is essential, that you complain constantly how a bunch of liberals are picking on you and would be nowhere so mean if a Zoroastrian said these things. Still, claiming religious discrimination against this man is worse than absurd.

        It tells me you’re not even trying.

      • Submitted by Sean Huntley on 12/20/2013 - 02:13 pm.

        And like virtually every other entertainer on TV, he most likely has details in his contract, which he signed, that say the company can discipline him for publicly making bigoted remarks whether it is on his time or not.

  3. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 12/20/2013 - 03:13 pm.


    I disagree that political correctness is just politeness. It was my understanding that the magazine reporter asked Robertson about sin. To keep from offending anyone he would have had to decline to answer the question, Every sin he listed is not a sin to someone else. In fact, he probably wouldn’t have been able to talk about any subject at all.
    Most of the time political correctness is just a way to keep other people who disagree with you from speaking.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/20/2013 - 03:32 pm.

      Sinners, repent!

      He was also asked about his recollection of race relations. A 67-year old man from Louisiana had this to say:

      “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once.”

      Now, maybe he didn’t regard it as “mistreatment.” Perhaps he regarded it as God’s justice?

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/20/2013 - 03:57 pm.

        Yeah, who are you going to believe

        A guy who was there or the third-person accounts from your sociology professor? More often than not, liberals choose the latter.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/20/2013 - 04:22 pm.

          Eyewitless accounts

          First of all, I hate to disappoint you, but I never took sociology in college. Same for anthropology, another smarty-pants discipline I know you resent.

          Second, I’ve heard numerous first-hand accounts about race relations in the south in the old days. White people of that vintage always seem to think everything was fine. “The coloreds” didn’t want to have the same jobs we did, live in white neighborhoods, or vote. They were happy with things as they were. African Americans of that era tend to have a different take on these things.

          I’ll bet there were plenty of people who were around when the Indian Removal Act was passed who could have told you that no one was mistreated.

        • Submitted by Ginny Martin on 12/20/2013 - 08:41 pm.

          religious comment?

          Happily, there are a whole lot of things I can avoid very easily–and this sounds like one of them. But I can’t figure out the religious connection. Nor the “political correctness” connection. Political correctness is nothing more than restraining oneself from saying any abuse, mean, vicious thing that comes to mind. That seems to be the problem with people who denigrate “political correctness.” They can’t be–or are called to account–when they are vicious and libelous. A lot of our very mean and nasty politicians (especially those on the right) would be completely silent if they had to be considerate and fair.

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