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Chiu compiled his list from public reports of these intrusions. "Every company is trying to do more with less."But retailers are beginning to realize that they can no longer accept fraud as a cost of doing business.HACKERS FOCUS ON RETAILCrooks, experts say, focus on retailers over banks and other financial institutions with their own treasure troves of consumer info because traditionally the latter more aggressively protect that data."The common mentality [has been] do as little around security as they can in order to just get by," Chiu said of retailers. Chiu said his company has fielded four times as many inquiries since late December as it had in the prior two months.Banks and retailers are already in the expensive process of switching to a more secure payment method relying on credit and debit cards that work with a microchip.

Criminals, he said, are looking at return on investment, asking, "Where do I break into to get the maximum yield of monetizeable data?

"The answer has led hackers to the retail industry, which rings up billions of transactions a year, and collects shoppers' information and preferences to target them with specific offers that spur more purchases.

Since last July, retailers including Walgreens, Nordstrom, Target, Neiman Marcus and Michaels have been hacked, according to a list provided to USA TODAY by Eric Chiu, president and co-founder of security company Hy Trust.

After Target announced that its credit and customer records had been hacked, merchants jumped to upgrade their securit yand there was a growing call for better standards and technology to safeguard data.

Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of this story should not have included Walmart.

When Target announced in December that its credit and customer records had been hacked, and news of similar breaches at other retailers followed, it was a pivotal moment for data security.

Merchants jumped to upgrade and protect their systems.

Along with data security companies, payment processors and lawmakers on Capitol Hill they joined a growing chorus calling for better standards and technology to safeguard data.

Target, after acknowledging that as many as 110 million customers had personal information and card data stolen, said it would speed up its adoption of more secure payment technology.

Suddenly, banks were being pressured to issue customers new cards with microchips, which have been used in Europe for more than 20 years.

Congressional committees asked, with urgency, what more could be done.

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