40 Million Target Customers Affected By Card Data Security Breach

Oh, Target: The glorious bastion of American shopping, where a trip in for a gift for the neighbor inevitably leads to a $60 spree on everything you never knew you needed. Turns out the criminal underworld is having a bit of a spree themselves, though: Around forty million Target customers had their credit and debit card information breached in a data hack that took place at the peak of Christmas shopping, the company announced early Thursday. Online customers aren't thought to have been affected.

In a statement, the retailer said that "unauthorized access" was inadvertently granted when customers swiped their cards at the checkout at the company's 1,797 U.S. outposts between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.. Information gleaned off the swipe included the owners' name, the card number, the expiration date, and the three-digit CCV security code on the back.

"When all is said and done, this one will put its mark up there with some of the largest retail breaches to date," the Krebs Security report, which broke the news, cited an unnamed source saying. The last gasp-inducing security breach was in 2007, when 45.7 million customers' card information was stolen from TJ Maxx and Marshall's, with 94 million account numbers stolen over 18 months. However, as far as the most-accounts-stolen-to-duration-of-operation ratio goes, the Target operation's conspirers definitely distinguished themselves: rigging this many terminals took a technological sophistication that wasn't exactly in the amateur realm.

Luckily for last-minute holiday customers, Target is on it like the New York Times. The company says they have "worked swiftly" (if they do say so themselves) to alert law enforcement including the Secret Service to get the responsible Scrooges behind bars. In the meantime, customers who did a shop during the period are advised to have a look at their bank statements to make sure there aren't any mysterious transactions on there.

Target said that the issue has now been resolved, so everyone can keep calm and Christmas-shop on.