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Investors Couldn't Care Less About Data Breaches

On May 21, EBay revealed that it had suffered a cyber attack and data security breach, and users’ information—names, account passwords, e-mail addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, and birth dates—was exposed to hackers. While security experts, the news media, and actual EBay users may have all been alarmed, the stock investors weren’t. EBay’s stock finished trading virtually unchanged that day, dropping all of 8 pennies to $51.88.

That’s been the trend among companies that have suffered cyber attacks—the stock market practically ignores them. Consider Target and its own well-publicized data breach that happened back in December. Target’s stock didn’t really move at all. Investors sent a clear message they didn’t care. The stock fell several weeks later, in January, only after the company cut its earnings forecast. Even so, the stock rebounded in the next six weeks.