Economics

A Threat to Business: Data Breaches and Fraud

Businesses are facing a new set of threats in the 21st century. Sophisticated hackers and cyber criminals are continuously searching for weak spots to exploit in order to steal personal customer data.

Robert Spendlove and Joseph Mayans Aug 31, 2018

In 2017, Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the United States, suffered one of the worst data breaches of all time. Over the course of several weeks, hackers stole the names, social security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, and other personally identifiable information of nearly 150 Americans. The scale of the attack, which was brought to light in congressional hearings, highlighted not only the vulnerability of organizations to data theft, but exposed the considerable cost to businesses in the aftermath of a breach. According to IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average total cost for a data breach in the United States is $7.91 million. Businesses that suffer a data breach must spend considerable time and resources determining the scope of the breach, notifying customers and regulators, fixing and updating the compromised systems, and striving to win back customers and reputation. The overall scale of a data breach is hard to calculate due to the ongoing threat of fraud. Stolen data can sit dormant for years, only to resurface later for hackers and fraudsters to take advantage of and use against unsuspecting victims. As the technological sophistication of criminals and hackers becomes ever-more advanced, it is vital that businesses remain committed to protecting their clients’ data.

Graphics with Data Breach Statistics
Source: IBM and Ponemon Institute, “2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study: Global Overview”

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