Jul 23, 2019

Cost of the average U.S. data breach tops $8 million

Photo: Dave Whitney/Getty Images

Taking into account the full-spectrum costs associated with a data breach, the average breach costs U.S. companies $8.19 million, according to a new study from IBM and the Ponemon Institute.

The big picture: It's not cheap to be breached. But the same study shows that a little foresight can save a large chunk of damages.

Background The IBM study based its statistical models on a wide variety of direct and indirect costs, ranging from the price of remediating a breach and paying for customer credit protection to IT downtime and reputational damage.

By the numbers: The average cost in the U.S. was more than twice the global cost of a breach ($3.92 million).

  • Small firms take proportionally much greater damage. Globally, a firm of 500-1000 employees lost $3500 per employee per breach. A firm of more than 25,000 lost only $204 per employee.
  • The most expensive breaches were in the healthcare sector, where the average cost per record stolen is more than twice as high as in any other field.
  • The costs take some time to materialize. Only 67% of the costs came in the first year — 22% came in year 2, and 11% in year 3 and beyond.

The other side: Companies with an incident response team and a well-tested plan in place saved $1.23 million during a breach.

  • But a plan can be relative to the size of a business. “Small businesses think plans need to be something complex,” said Wendi Whitmore, global lead for IBM X-Force incident response and intelligence services. “But it can just be as simple as having a list of numbers to call."

Go deeper

Unpacking the Equifax settlement

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After Equifax agreed this week to a landmark settlement with state and federal regulators for its historic 2017 data breach, regulators are hoping that its penalties — which will cost Equifax up to $700 million — are big enough to deter the next firm from allowing the next breach.

Why it matters: There has never before been a breach like Equifax, where enough personal data was pilfered to steal the identity of the majority of U.S. adults. It's a milestone that consumers and regulators alike hope will only happen the once.

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019

Data from 100 million credit applications stolen from Capital One

Photo: Johannes Eilsele/AFP/Getty Images

The FBI arrested Washington state resident Paige Thompson Monday morning for the digital theft of data from tens of millions of credit card applications, multiple news sites reported. Capital One confirmed broad aspects of the arrest in a press release.

What was stolen: Data from around 100 million credit card applications from between 2005 and 2019, including 80,000 bank account numbers and 140,000 Social Security numbers. 1 million Canadian Social Insurance Numbers were also stolen.

Go deeperArrowJul 29, 2019

How to file a claim over Equifax's data breach

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you're one of the 147 million-plus people who had their data exposed by Equifax's massive 2017 data breach, you can file a claim for cash or free credit monitoring, courtesy of Equifax's recent settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Details: If you lost up to $500 from the Equifax breach, filing for a "time spent" cash payment requires the least amount of paperwork and supporting documents. The deadline for all claims is January 22, per the FTC, and benefits will not be sent until January 23 at the earliest.

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019