Putting a Price Tag on Data Breaches

Analysis of data breaches around the globe reveals that human errors and system issues that put data at risk can cause more damage than malicious hackers.

by / June 7, 2013

Symantec and the Ponemon Institute released their eighth annual Cost of Data Breach Study on June 5, featuring insights and analysis on data breaches from 277 companies in nine countries. The average price tag per compromised record around the globe came in at $136, and the source of two-thirds of all breaches was either human error or system problems.

"While external attackers and their evolving methods pose a great threat to companies, the dangers associated with the insider threat can be equally destructive and insidious,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute, in a press release.

The cost of breaches in certain "heavily regulated" industries like pharmaceutical, health care and finance outpaced costs in other fields by 70 percent. The cost per breached public-sector record, however, comes in quite a bit lower than private-sector records: $88 each, compared to $136, according to Symantec.
The report found that 37 percent of breaches are caused by those with malicious intent. This type, not surprisingly, is the most costly to the organization that is victimized. In the U.S., breaches carried out by criminal attackers cost the affected organization an average of $277.

Symantec recommends the following steps to reduce the cost of data breaches and help prevent them altogether:

1. Train employees on how to properly handle confidential data.

2. Deploy data loss prevention technology to identify and protect sensitive information.

3. Employ aggressive authentication and encryption strategies.

4. Develop an incident response plan that outlines customer notifcation procedures.

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