Target breach notifications are a perfect example of what not to do

It's bad enough that Target allowed more than 100 million accounts to be compromised, but its response is an exercise in poor judgment

Hopefully your company will never be the victim of a massive data breach. If it is, though, and customer data is compromised, make sure you don't follow Target's lead when it comes to notifying customers. Target's customer notification efforts are wrong on almost every level.

Customers are conditioned to not click on links in email messages. In the wake of a massive data breach like Target experienced, phishing scams often try to exploit the heightened awareness by sending out emails that look very legitimate.

Security experts warn users to specifically avoid such emails following a data breach, and remind users that a legitimate, reputable company would not send you an email and ask you to click on a link.

Apparently, Target did not get that memo.

James Lyne, global head of security for Sophos, received an email from Target--although he claims that he is not even a Target customer. There are apparently many people receiving breach notification emails from Target who did not shop at Target and are not affected by the breach.

Lyne dissected the email in a post on Forbes, breaking down point by point all the ways Target failed. It uses a shady subdomain--"target.bfi0.com" rather than just "target.com"--and directs users to click on a link comprised of endless gibberish. The email is distributed using a ridiculously suspicious-looking email address. In a nutshell, there is nothing about the legitimate breach notification email from Target that differentiates it in any way from a reasonably well-crafted phishing attack.

"What hope do users have of making a decision about the legitimacy of emails when the good guys behave like this?" asks Lyne. "Target needs to look closely at how it rebuilds consumer trust and suspicious looking emails is not going to help."

Try this

If you ever find your company in the unfortunate position of needing to notify customers of a data breach and possible compromise of personal information, this is not how you do it. The notification email should originate from a domain that is instantly identifiable as your company. If your Web domain is "pcworld.com", the notification email should come from "<SomeRelevantAddress>@pcworld.com".

The notification should be just that--a notification. It should clearly state the facts of the incident, and explain in simple terms what information is potentially compromised, and what customers can do to determine if they're affected, and what they should do to protect themselves and their personal data. It can provide a phone number for customers to call, but it should not contain a link that customers are expected to click on for any reason.

We can excuse Target to some extent for being the unfortunate victim of such a massive data breach. It's response to the breach, however, and these very shady customer notification emails, are inexcusable.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

yes AI should be a course so many People Use AI https://g-techsolutions.com...

M Abdullah Khan

Is AI on course to take over human creativity? - Modern creative - CMO Australia

Read more

Extremely informative. One should definitely go through the blog in order to know different aspects of the top retail technology.

Pooja Gupta

Donut King takes in-store marketing to the next digital level

Read more

this is very benefit for us we can through all the thing in this and its very benefit for city personhttps://g-techsolutions.com...

M Abdullah Khan

What does the Oculus Rift launch mean for marketers?

Read more

as we all known AI is very spread and alot of companies used ai and we take alot of work from AI https://g-techsolutions.com...

M Abdullah Khan

Making sense artificial intelligence - Food for thought - CMO Australia

Read more

virtual marketing have as much benefits as also disadvantageshttps://g-techsolutions.com...

M Abdullah Khan

The ethical debate facing marketers around virtual reality - Data-driven marketing - CMO Australia

Read more

Blog Posts

Brand storytelling lessons from Singapore’s iconic Fullerton hotel

In early 2020, I had the pleasure of staying at the newly opened Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. It was on this trip I first became aware of the Fullerton’s commitment to brand storytelling.

Gabrielle Dolan

Business storytelling leader

You’re doing it wrong: Emotion doesn’t mean emotional

If you’ve been around advertising long enough, you’ve probably seen (or written) a slide which says: “They won’t remember what you say, they’ll remember how you made them feel.” But it’s wrong. Our understanding of how emotion is used in advertising has been ill informed and poorly applied.

Zac Martin

Senior planner, Ogilvy Melbourne

Why does brand execution often kill creativity?

The launch of a new brand, or indeed a rebrand, is a transformation to be greeted with fanfare. So why is it that once the brand has launched, the brand execution phase can also be the moment at which you kill its creativity?

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in