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The Confident SMB

What SMBs can learn from the 2011 Cost of a Data Breach Study

Created: 10 May 2012 • Updated: 10 May 2012
Dal Gemmell's picture
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Careless employees continue to cost companies millions. That’s one of the key takeaways from the 2011 Cost of a Data Breach Study released last month by Symantec and the Ponemon Institute, which provides valuable insight into the data breaches that occurred during the past year.

Negligent insiders were the top source of data breaches in 2011, causing 39 percent of all breaches in the study.  Just behind negligence, malicious attacks caused 37 percent of all breaches and were the most expensive type of breach, averaging $222 per lost record.

Overall, the average organizational cost of a data breach was $5.5 million last year, and the cost per lost or stolen record was $194. It’s important to remember that although there was a reported decrease in data breach costs, the financial consequences of data breaches are still very significant, especially for an SMB.

Small businesses must stay more vigilant and up-to-date on their security practices than ever before.  The findings from the 2011 Cost of a Data Breach Study reinforce Symantec’s advice for SMBs – training and awareness programs are crucial.

In order to protect your SMB’s data, here are some best practices to consider:

  • Assess risks by identifying and classifying confidential information
  • Educate employees on information protection policies and procedures (such as streamlined social media profiles), then hold them accountable
  • Implement an integrated security solution that includes reputation-based security, proactive threat protection, firewall and intrusion prevention in order to keep malware off endpoints
  • Consider data loss prevention technologies which enable policy compliance and enforcement
  • Use appropriate security and backup solutions to archive important files
  • Proactively encrypt laptops to minimize consequences of a lost device
  • Implement two-factor authentication (Ex. VPN plus strong user name and password.
  • Integrate information protection practices into businesses processes.

Want to know what a data breach might cost you? Symantec’s free data breach calculator will help you understand how all the research in the study relates to and affects your company. Go to www.databreachcalculator.com to calculate the potential cost of a data breach for your small business.