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24 October 2006, 11:53

Study shows data theft becoming more expensive for businesses

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Data theft can cost businesses serious money: an average of US $4.7 million in 31 cases investigated as part of a new study carried out by the Ponemon Institute (2006 Ponemon Data Breach Study). "The costs companies have to bear following data breaches are significant and are a strong argument for strategic investment in preventive measures," explained the study's author, Larry Ponemon.

The cost of data breaches at the affected businesses was between US $226,000 and $22 million. According to the study, the average cost per lost data record amounted to $182, significantly more than for the previous year ($138). The majority of this arose from indirect costs, including loss of existing or future customers and the resulting loss of business. Each lost data record caused the businesses studied to lose almost $100 in sales.

Mobile devices represent the greatest risk according to the study. 45 per cent of the cases studied were caused by loss or theft of laptops, PDAs or mobile storage media. By contrast, the number of successful hacker attacks was, at 10 percent, relatively low.

The study was supported by Vondu and PGP. These two companies operate in the data security and encryption fields. They will be happy with Ponemon's recommendation to undertake "preventive measures such as encryption and protection from data loss".


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