Monday, February 11, 2008

The Indirect Costs of a Data Breach

by Doug Pollack

A recently published article in E-Commerce Times concerning the costs of corporate data breaches titled The Cost of ID Theft, Part 2: Fixing the System written by Andrew Burger, highlights the staggering economic impact of the increasing number of data breaches by America's corporations.

The article notes a statistic from the Ponemon Institute that pegs the average cost of a data breach at $197 per record compromised.

"The stakes are already quite high when it comes to data loss: According to Gartner and the Ponemon Institute, the loss of a single record -- not financial fraud -- is around (US)$197. If you take the extremely conservative estimate from the same research that said that in 2007, 127 million records were lost, you get around $25 billion in direct losses noted Uriel Maimon, senior researcher for security firm RSA."

Ponemon further explores these costs, finding that around two-thirds of the cost of the data breach is associated with the loss of customers or reduction of corporate reputation.

"The cost of lost business is likely to be larger and more significant than actual cash losses and expenses related to remediation, however. The average customer churn for businesses surveyed that had suffered a breach was 2.67 percent, noted Kevin Bocek, director of product marketing for encryption firm PGP."Link

With this in mind, companies should plan as part of their data breach response plans to explicitly focus on elements of their response that will engender customer goodwill. While this may seem difficult to achieve in such circumstances, every opportunity to reach out and touch your customers creates an opportunity to increase retention and brand loyalty.

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