During this past year, we’ve been reminded (too) many times that data breaches are costly and damaging to a company’s reputation. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2014 Cost of Data Breach Study, the average total cost of a data breach—which can include credit monitoring, legal fees, remediation, and customer loss—for the companies who participated in the research report increased 15%, to $3.5 million USD. Also, the average cost paid for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information increased more than 9% from $136 in 2013 to $145.i In short: failure to protect sensitive data has a quantifiable cost, and the theft of that data has bottom line implications. However, are C-level execs viewing files and emails containing customer records and other sensitive information as bits and bytes on a disk, or do they view them as piles of unprotected cash?
Unfortunately, it has been much more of the former, based on the huge data heists of the last year. The tide, though, may finally be changing. Here’s what HP CEO Meg Whitman had to say about the cloud, security, and Big Data:
“When I am with my fellow CEOs…these are three areas that me and my colleagues are worried about…Every CEO lives in fear of a Big Data breach, loss of data, a hack into the system that compromises our company’s reputation. And reputations take years and years to build and can be destroyed overnight.”
Our guess is that executives will have no choice but to join Ms. Whitman and start weighing the potential impact of data loss and how it can evaporate years of trust and brand equity in a heartbeat.
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