Though data breaches have been on the forefront of many large company’s risk management efforts for a number of years, it has become clear that the threat of a data breach is very real and touches on every business, regardless of size, and in nearly every part of the economy. A comprehensive 2013 Verizon report revealed that more than 31 percent of the data breaches in 2012 impacted businesses with less than 100 employees. Even in the face of these numbers, smaller companies may underestimate the threat they face. A relatively minor data breach could result in hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in potential costs.
Beyond bulking up data security protocols, there are relatively easy steps that every company can take to prepare for the worst. Foremost is the preparation of a clear data breach response plan. A 2013 study prepared for Symantec found that the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. was more than $5.4 million (approximately $194 for each record breached). That same study identified a clear data breach response plan as the number one way organizations could reduce the cost of a data breach, lowering the cost by as much as 21 percent.
Originally published in Oregon Business in May 2014.
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