Data breaches don’t come cheap

data breach hidden costs

Although data breaches have been rife for decades, the number of incidents in the U.S. increased by 40% from 2015 to 2016, according to Bloomberg Technology. This figure may be reflective of U.K. trends as well.

Eva Casey Velasquez, Chief Executive Officer of the Identity Theft Resource Centre, highlighted the crux of data breaches:

“…we are extremely confident that breaches are undiscovered and under-reported, and we don’t know the full scope.”

However, she goes onto say that it isn’t the worst-case scenario they’re looking at; it’s the best-case.

Costs of data breaches

The after-effects of data breaches stem wider than just annoyed customers; the company or organisation could be hit with a hefty fine. According to an IBM-partnered report by Ponemon Institute (2017), the average total cost of a data breach was around $3.62 million (£2.8 million) in 2016.

This is, undisputedly, a very large sum; but the report shows the actual cost of data breaches has decreased year-on-year. This is shown in their 10% decrease from $4 million (£3.1 million) from the year before. In this year’s report, the average cost per lost record has also indicated a decrease from $158 to $141 (£122 to £109). On the grand scheme of things, the decrease doesn’t really change the situation and the cost of a data breach remains in the millions.

Data breaches getting larger?

Despite the drop in the total cost of a data breach, the majority of the 419 companies surveyed in the Ponemon Institute study found they had actually experienced a larger data breach than the previous year. The 2017 report found the size of the breach increased by 1.8% and the likelihood of a recurring breach rose by 2.1%. This could be more detrimental to the company as a whole as it seems more and more customers/individuals are being impacted by the breach. This could also bring more bad publicity for the company as those who are a victim of the breach may vent on social media or to their friends and family.

Inevitable data breaches

There’s no getting away from data breaches, and today’s thinking is ‘to expect a data breach’. Ponemon Institute’s Chairman and Founder, Dr. Larry Ponemon, concurs with this thought:

“…data breaches are now a consistent cost of doing business in the cybercrime era. The evidence showed that this is a permanent risk organisations need to be prepared to deal with. It needs to be incorporated into data protection strategies.”

It’s crucial that companies and organisations have total control over their cyber-security, or they may be left facing consequences if or when something goes wrong. Cyber-hackers and criminal insiders were the ones most likely to initiate a data breach with 47% of all data breaches attributed to malicious or criminal intent.

According to the report, the U.S. are the most likely to be hit with an expensive data breach. The total cost to an organisation in the U.S. amounted to $7.35 million (£5.7 million).

Are response plans in place?

Other issues attributed to the higher costs of a data breach may also be down to the response time of a company or organisation. The longer the company leaves the breach or is unaware of the breach, the more it can cost the company. It’s therefore crucial for companies to have effective response plans in place to hopefully help reduce the costs and reduce the post-breach effects for the customers.

IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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