Target CEO Resigns in Wake of Massive Data Breach

Target's CEO is the latest victim of the data breach that rocked the retail world. Gregg Steinhafel is stepping down as chairman, president and chief, handing the reins temporarily to CFO John Mulligan. Target is now on the hunt for new leadership.

Target revealed in late December that a breach had led to the theft of information on 40 million credit and debit card accounts in transactions that occurred from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15. In January, the company said the theft may also have exposed identifying information like names, addresses and e-mail addresses for as many as 70 million customers. In February, Krebs on Security broke the news that at the heart of the costly breach were network credentials stolen from a third-party vendor.

The Target data theft was the largest affecting a retailer since data on 45.7 million shoppers was taken in 2005 at retailing giant TJX, which operated several chains, including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.

"The board is deeply grateful to Gregg for his significant contributions and outstanding service throughout his notable 35-year career with the company," Target's board said in a statement Monday. "We believe his passion for the team and relentless focus on the guest have established Target as a leader in the retail industry."

Under the Bus

The board's statement went on to say that Steinhafel created a culture that fostered innovation and supported development of new ideas. "He also led the company through unprecedented challenges, navigating the financial recession, reacting to challenges with Target's expansion into Canada, and successfully defending the company through a high-profile proxy battle," the board said.

Then why throw him under the bus? Because he led the response to the breach and "held himself personally accountable and pledged that Target would emerge a better company." In other words, someone had to take the fall.

But Steinhafel...

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