5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week include a massive data breach at retail giant Target, Yahoo's email woes, and Google and HP issuing a recall for over 100,000 Chromebook 11 power chargers. Also, Dell employees have until Friday to meet a key deadline and BlackBerry reports a massive third-quarter loss.

Retail giant Target acknowledged the worst possible news at the absolute worst time this week. The company said Thursday a data security breach potentially exposed as many as 40 million credit and debit cards, all during the busy holiday season.

According to a Target statement, the breach took place on the payment systems associated with Target's nearly 1,800 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. The thieves had access to the credit card systems between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. The company said it has resolved the security lapse.

"We take this matter very seriously and are working with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO of Target, in a statement Thursday.

Security experts say this data breach could be one of the biggest retail credit card breaches of all-time and demonstrates the need for companies to focus on risk-based security measures.

Yahoo's woes continued Monday as users continued to have problems with Yahoo Mail, nearly a week after the site's email service crashed.

According to Computer World, Yahoo released a report Sunday night on its Mail Status page that engineers were making "steady progress" on restoring lost emails. The next update occurred Monday night, with Yahoo saying it "restored access for users" and was continuing "to make progress on recovering email messages." As of Thursday night, Yahoo said that all email problems have been resolved.

CEO Marissa Mayer apologized last Friday for the outage, saying she is "very sorry" to the users affected by the service disruption.

Multiple reports of chargers "overheating and melting during use" forced Google and HP to recall 145,000 power supply/chargers for the HP Chromebook 11.

The HP Chromebook 11 was released in October at a suggested retail price of $279. However, Google and HP had stopped selling the laptop in November after reports of overheating chargers.

"There is one report of a small burn to a consumer and one report of minor property damage to a pillow from an overheating charger," according to a recall report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

HP apologized for the "inconvenience" the recall caused consumers.

Dell employees have until Friday to take advantage of a voluntary early retirement program as the newly private company's desire to trim its workforce continues.

Dell informed a portion of its 110,000 employees about the "voluntary separation program." Company spokesman David Fink said the program would attempt to "improve Dell's cost structure and free up capital to make the investments in growth areas that matter to our customers the most." Fink did not say how many jobs the company was seeking to cut or if layoffs were forthcoming.

A Dell employee who wished to remain anonymous said he is "taking a chance and staying." However, he said that longtime employees have grappled with the decision to take the package, as there's a chance they could choose to stay and eventually get laid off.

Will BlackBerry ever catch another break? The struggling Canadian smartphone maker reported a loss of $4.4 billion in the third quarter. Revenue also dropped from $2.7 billion in the third quarter last year to $1.2 billion.

The losses come as BlackBerry shuffled up its executive leadership. Former CEO Thorsten Heins was replaced by John Chen last month. Rumors continue to swirl that the company will be sold.

"We have accomplished a lot in the past 45 days, but still have significant work ahead of us as we target improved financial performance next year," said Chen in a statement.