US companies face most expensive data breaches globally

Data breaches have no geographical limits, but a new study from the Ponemon Institute found American firms have had it worst in the world, are hit most often and the hardest by them, in the past 15 months.

A case study of 314 organizations worldwide showed U.S. companies faced 29,087 data breaches between January 2013 and March 2014. Close behind were the United Arab Emirates/Saudi Arabian region and India, with 28,690 and 26,586 attacks, respectively.

Globally, those breaches were most often malicious attacks from a third party. In the U.S., 44 percent of the breaches were criminal in nature, while 31 percent came from human error and the rest from system glitches. It’s the malicious attempts that are most costly to companies, with a per capita price tag of about $159, compare to $126 for system glitch and $117 for human error.

Overall, data breaches in the U.S. have an average per capita cost of $201, up $188 last year. On the organizational level, that equates to an average cost of $5.85 million, a $450,000 uptick year over year. Globally, the cost was $3.5 million, which was up 15 percent from last year.


Most of the hacks people focus on have to do with big commercial retailers, such as last year’s Target breach. But Ponemon found breaches are far mar costly per capita in other industries storing more critical data. When health care companies are hit, for instance, it costs them a massive $359 per capita, compared to retail’s $105. Education isn’t far behind at $294, and neither is the pharmaceutical industry with a cost of $227 per capita.

The study delves into countless other details, including the correlation between the number of records lost and the cost of a breach, the costs after a data breach and average cost of lost business after a breach.

But most important, the report concludes that while the U.S. has been privy to attacks in the past year or so and faces the biggest financial burden from them, in the next two years, it faces better odds than other countries for a probable large-scale data breach. While India and Brazil lead the pack with a 30 percent chance for a big breach in the next 24 months, the U.S. trails behind at about 19 percent.

Billy Mitchell

Written by Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell is Senior Vice President and Executive Editor of Scoop News Group's editorial brands. He oversees operations, strategy and growth of SNG's award-winning tech publications, FedScoop, StateScoop, CyberScoop, EdScoop and DefenseScoop. After earning his degree at Virginia Tech and winning the school's Excellence in Print Journalism award, Billy received his master's degree from New York University in magazine writing.

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