HOUSTON -

A Rice University Ph.D. believes that very few retailers spend enough money on cybersecurity, putting customer financial and personal data at risk.

“Just look around now. Almost every company you can think of has had a breach of some sort, a problem, a hack,” Dr. Christopher Bronk said.

Target Corporation recently revised their “victim” estimates. Up to 110 million customers may be affected by a computer hack that put not only debit and credit card information into the wrong hands, but also customer names, phone numbers, email and mailing addresses.

While it undoubtedly took a certain level of sophistication to gain access to the information, Bronk contends that retailers routinely do not encrypt data sent between their retail stores and corporate location. That point of weakness opened the door to fraud in the Target case, Bronk said.

“You have to remember that technology keeps moving ahead. Retailers did not originally count on this problem. The good guys have to be right all of the time, the bad guys only have to be right once,” Bronk said.

Target’s Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan, announced this week, that Target is moving forward more aggressively on producing so-called “chip and pin” technology, similar to a system widely used in Europe.

“The products we offer will have the chip in them early next year,” Mulligan said in a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The move may improve Target’s security, but other retailers, banks, and credit card companies have provided no timeline on the technology company.

The new cards cost approximately three times more than traditional cards to produce, according to study by Time Magazine. Millions of new machines would need to be installed at retailers across the country.

The sticking point appears to be who would bear the cost of the massive upgrade.

A lower cost, lower tech substitute is being embraced by one Montgomery County victim. Shannon Herbstrith noticed unauthorized charges in China a few weeks ago.

“I think in the future, we’re not going to use our debit cards, we’re just going to use cash,” Herbstrith said.