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Data Breach Cost Rises to $136 Per Exposed Record

The number of data breaches has grown steadily over recent years, and for companies getting hit by them, the costs associated with dealing with the fallout are rising too.

The average cost of dealing with a data breach in the U.S. alone may have dropped slightly to $5.4 million last year, but the the number of dollars spent for every record exposed in a breach on a global level rose to $136, according to the 2013 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis from Symantec and the Ponemon Institute. The average per-record cost in the U.S., meanwhile, stood at $188.

It should also be noted that in most cases — a combined 64 percent — these data breaches were caused by either human error or problems with the systems storing the information themselves, the report said. The other incidents were the result of hacking attacks, which tend to be far more expensive to deal with.

Roughly 37 percent of breaches were caused by hackers, and carried a per-record price tag in the U.S. of $277. For these reasons, it may be far more important for businesses to devote time and resources toward proper security measures. Interestingly, the reason the average cost of a breach fell in the U.S. was not due to their being less expensive to remediate, but rather that more companies hired chief information security officers to increase the safety of the information the businesses stored.

“Given [that] organizations with strong security postures and incident response plans experienced breach costs 20 percent less than others, the importance of a well-coordinated, holistic approach is clear,” said Anil Chakravarthy, executive vice president of the Information Security Group at Symantec. “Companies must protect their customers’ sensitive information no matter where it resides, be it on a PC, mobile device, corporate network or data center.”

When data breaches occur, consumers may be at significantly higher risk for identity theft and related issues. For this reason, it might be wise for potentially affected victims to keep closer tabs on their finances, including bank and credit card accounts, as well as their credit reports, to ensure that no fraudulent transactions or lines of credit have been opened in their names.

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