Data breaches now industrywide problem: Target CEO

Target's unique holiday shopping advantage

One year after Target's highly publicized holiday season data breach, consumers recognize that online security is an industrywide issue, Target CEO Brian Cornell told CNBC on Friday.

"When it happened to us it was front-page news. It's happened obviously to many other retailers," he said in an interview on "Squawk on the Street."

The attack on Target compromised the information of 110 million customers and cost the company nearly $150 million, leading to a shake-up of its executive team. Since then, a number of companies including Home Depot, Staples, and PF Chang's have suffered attacks aimed at stealing shoppers' information.

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This year, Target saw record sales for online shopping on Thursday evening, Cornell said. The company reported that digital sales on Thanksgiving Day increased 40 percent from the previous year.

Cornell credited the Target's launch of a free shipping program through the holidays for the strong online performance, saying customers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to make orders.

"We thought free shipping was really important to allow our shoppers to come into our stores, to conveniently shop at home and pick up, or to shop online," said Cornell. "That combination for Target I think gives us a unique advantage during the holiday season."

He said it was too early to forecast the success of in-store Black Friday promotions.