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Cost of data breaches soars

Average cost per compromised record is $145

Cost of data breaches soars

The average total cost of a data breach increased 15% in the last year to $3.5 million, according to a study of 314 companies spanning ten countries by Ponemon Institute and IBM.

The study also found that the cost incurred for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information increased more than 9% to $145.

The ninth annual study involved the collection of detailed information about the financial consequences of a data breach. For purposes of this research, a data breach occurs when sensitive, protected, or confidential data is lost or stolen and put at risk. Ponemon Institute conducted 1,690 interviews with IT, compliance, and information security practitioners representing 314 organizations in the following ten countries: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, France, Brazil, Japan, Italy, India, and, for the first time, the Arabian region (a consolidation of organizations in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia).

“The goal of this research is to not just help companies understand the types of data breaches that could impact their business, but also the potential costs and how best to allocate resources to the prevention, detection, and resolution of such an incident,” says Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute. “This year’s Cost of Data Breach Study also provides guidance on the likelihood an organization will have a data breach and what can be done to reduce the financial consequences.”

All those interviewed are knowledgeable about their organization’s data breach and the costs associated with resolving the breach. All participating organizations experienced a data breach ranging from a low of approximately 2,400 to slightly more than 100,000 compromised records, which identifies the individual whose information has been lost or stolen in a data breach.

“Clearly, cybersecurity threats are a growing concern for businesses, especially when we consider how persistent data has become in the age of cloud and mobility,” says Kris Lovejoy, general manager, IBM Security Services Division. “A data breach can result in enormous damage to a business that goes way beyond the financials. At stake is customer loyalty and brand reputation.”

The following are key takeaways from the Global Cost of Data Breach Study:

•            The most costly breaches occurred in the United States and Germany at $201 and $195 per compromised record, respectively. The least expensive data breaches were in India and Brazil at $51 and $70, respectively.

•            Root causes of data breaches differ among countries and affect the cost of the breach. Countries in the Arabian region and Germany had more data breaches caused by malicious or criminal attacks. India had the most data breaches caused by a system glitch or business process failure. Human error was most often the cause in the United Kingdom and Brazil. The most costly data breaches were those caused by malicious and criminal attacks. The United States and Germany paid the most at $246 and $215 per compromised record, respectively. These types of data breaches were least costly for companies in India and Brazil at $60 and $77 per compromised record, respectively.

•            A strong security posture was critical to decreasing the cost of data breach. On average, companies that self-reported they had a strong security posture were able to reduce the cost by as much as $14 per record.  

•            The involvement of business continuity management reduced the cost of data breach by an average of almost $9 per record.

•            The appointment of a chief information security officer (CISO) to lead the data breach incident response team reduced the cost of a breach by more than $6.

•            Countries that lost the most customers following a data breach were France and Italy. Companies in the Arabian region and Brazil experienced the lowest loss of customers.

•            The probability of a company having a data breach involving 10,000 or more confidential records is 22% over a two-year period. Countries most likely to experience a data breach include India, Brazil, and France.

Consistent with previous studies, the most common cause of a data breach is a malicious insider or criminal attack. In this year’s study, we asked companies represented in this research what worries them most about security incidents, what investments they are making in security, and the existence of a security strategy. Following are some of the key findings:

•            The greatest threats to the companies in this study are malicious code and sustained probes.

•            Only 38% of companies have a security strategy to protect its IT infrastructure. A higher percentage (45%) has a strategy to protect their information assets.

•            Malicious code and sustained probes have increased the most. Companies estimate that they will be dealing with an average of 17 malicious codes each month and 12 sustained probes each month. Unauthorized access incidents have mainly stayed the same and companies estimate they will be dealing with an average of ten such incidents each month.

•            Half of the companies (50%) have low or no confidence that they are making the right investments in people, process, and technologies to address potential and actual threats.

•            Ideally companies would like to invest $14 million over the next 12 months to execute their organization’s security strategy. However, in the next 12-month period, companies anticipate having an average of about half that amount, or $7 million, to invest in their security strategy.

John Ginovsky

John Ginovsky is a contributing editor of Banking Exchange and editor of the publication’s Tech Exchange e-newsletter. For more than two decades he’s written about the commercial banking industry, specializing in its technological side and how it relates to the actual business of banking. In addition to his weekly blogs—"Making Sense of It All"—he contributes fresh, original stories to each Tech Exchange issue based on personal interviews or exclusive contributed pieces. He previously was senior editor for Community Banker magazine (which merged into ABA Banking Journal) and for ABA Banking Journal and was managing editor and staff reporter for ABA’s Bankers News. Email him at jginovsky@sbpub.com.

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