Data Breach Basics

        Understanding and Preventing Data Breaches


A data breach is an incident where private data is accessed and/or stolen by an unauthorized individual. Data can be stolen by a third party, such as a hacker, or by an internal actor (perhaps a disgruntled or recently fired employee).

According to the Ponemon Institute’s Cost of Data Breach Survey, the average per record cost of a data breach was $201 in 2013, and the average organizational cost of a data breach was $5.9 million.

What do Target, Nieman Marcus and Apple have in common? All these companies were victims of a data breach in 2013, totaling millions of stolen records that include personal information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.

If your company handles critical assets such as customers’ personal data, intellectual property or proprietary corporate data, you are at risk of a data breach. It doesn’t matter if you are a Fortune 500 company or a small “ma and pa” shop—cyber thieves are always looking for their next score. It is often assumed that smaller businesses can escape attention from cyber crooks, but according to Verizon Communication’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report, 31 percent of data breaches were at companies with 100 or fewer employees. No company of any size is completely safe from a data breach.