“The fact this breach can happen with all of their security in place is really alarming,” Litan said.
Other experts theorize that Target’s network was hacked and infiltrated from the outside.
Whatever the case, Jason Oxman, CEO of the Electronics Transaction Association, which represents the payments technology industry, said data breaches like Target’s are generally “heavily organized and sophisticated.”
Annual losses from global credit and debit card fraud are on the rise. Last year, it reached $11.27 billion, up 11.4 percent from the previous year, according to The Nilson Report, which tracks global payments. Even so, Nilson’s publisher David Robertson pointed out that fraud still accounts for less than 6 cents of every $100 spent.
Target has almost 1,800 stores in the U.S. and 124 in Canada. Those who see suspicious charges should report them to their credit card companies and call Target at 866-852-8680. Cases of identity theft can also be reported to law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.