Steinhafel's departure comes two months after the company announced that Chief Information Officer Beth Jacob resigned and outlined a series of changes it was making to overhaul its security systems and its security department.
Last week, Target named Bob DeRodes, who has 40 years of experience in information technology, as its new chief information officer. Target said it is continuing its search for a chief information security officer and a chief compliance officer.
Target also said last week that MasterCard Inc. will provide branded credit and debit cards with a more secure chip-and-PIN technology next year. That will make Target the first major U.S. retailer that will have store cards with this technology.
Steinhafel has been facing increasing pressure since it was revealed on Dec. 19 that a data breach compromised 40 million credit and debit card accounts between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. Then on Jan. 10, the company said hackers also stole personal information — including names, phone numbers as well as email and mailing addresses — from as many as 70 million customers.
The company's board has been meeting with Steinhafel monthly instead of quarterly to oversee Target's response to the breach.
When the final tally is in, Target's breach may eclipse the biggest known data breach at a retailer, one disclosed in 2007 at the parent company of TJ Maxx that affected 90 million records.
Target reported in February that its fourth-quarter profit fell 46 percent on a revenue decline of 5.3 percent as the breach scared off customers.
Target's sales have been recovering as more time passes, but it expects business to be muted for some time: It issued a profit outlook for the current quarter and full year that missed Wall Street estimates because it faces hefty costs related to the breach.
Target's shares have been volatile and are down 2.5 percent since the breach was disclosed. The shares are now trading at about $62.