WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secret Service investigators say they're close to gaining a full understanding of how hackers were able to breach Target's computer systems last December.
But the agency says it could take years to identify the hackers. They stole some 40 million debit and credit card numbers of Target shoppers, and other personal information from as many as 70 million people.
Investigators say it could take even longer to bring the offenders to justice. They say the culprits are probably overseas, which makes extradition and prosecution difficult.
Ari Baranoff, an assistant special agent, says the Secret Service needs to have a lot of patience in an investigation like this. He says investigators focus on monitoring the online activities of suspects, in hopes of being able to arrest them at an opportune moment.
Target says it can't yet estimate what the breach will cost the company. But some analysts put the cost at close to half a billion dollars.