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The Ponemon Institute’s ninth annual Cost of Data Breach Study reveals that the average total cost to organizations that suffer a data breach increased fifteen percent year-over-year to $3.5 million, with the cost per record compromised rising nine percent to an average of $145 each.

The findings are based on 1,690 interviews with IT, compliance and infosec pros from 314 organizations in ten countries regarding instances where sensitive, protected or confidential data is lost, stolen or generally put at risk of unintentional disclosure.

“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,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon.

Other key findings in the study include:

  • The most costly breaches occurred in the U.S. and Germany at $201 and $195 per compromised record, respectively
  • Root causes of data breaches differ among countries and include breaches caused by malicious or criminal attacks, a system glitch or business process failure, or human error
  • The most costly data breaches were those caused by malicious and criminal attacks
  • The U.S. and Germany paid the most at $246 and $215 per compromised record, respectively
  • A strong security posture was critical to decreasing the cost of data breach
  • 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
  • The greatest threats to the companies in this study are malicious code and sustained probes
  • Only 38 percent of companies have a security strategy to protect its IT infrastructure
  • 45 percent have a strategy to protect their information assets

“Clearly, malicious insiders and criminal attacks are a growing concern for businesses, especially when we consider how persistent data has become in the age of cloud and mobility,” said Kris Lovejoy of IBM Security Services Division, which commissioned the study.

“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.”

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