What can we learn in the Benelux from the current data breach trends?

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Never before was the impact of cybercrime as large as in 2021. The average cost of a data breach, for example, increased by 10 percent compared to last year, according to the 2021 edition of IBM’ s annual Cost of a Data Breach Report. What are the most striking findings in this report? And how can organizations minimize the impact of a breach?

The Cost of a Data Breach Report is based on a survey that IBM Security commissions every year (the report is now in the 17th year). It gauges the general state of security: is the impact of data breaches going up or down – and is the momentum with cyber-criminals or security specialists? The report also shows today’s main breach trends: where do we see a large increase or decrease? In this article I am pointing out the main findings, adding some context and providing pointers to improve security in these areas.


What does a data breach cost?

Is an organization confronted with a breach? Then the financial damage is on average 10 percent higher than in 2020. And the average cost of a data breach has now reached 4.24 million USD. Unfortunately, Europe is well represented in the top 5 countries with increasing costs: the average cost of a breach in the United Kingdom increased by 19% to USD 4.67 million and in France by 14% to USD 4.57 million. Scandinavia is doing considerably better than our neighboring regions. A data breach costs $2.67 million on average there.


More than financial damage

The financial figures are just the tip of the iceberg. These direct costs hide a great deal of misery in the long term: eg.  additional efforts to make staff aware of the dangers, necessary process changes, stressed employees and suppliers’ damage. These effects are often forgotten, but in my view they are at least as important as the initial cost.


Remote working

Working from home brings with it additional security risks. We can now substantiate this assumption. Because the report shows that if an organization has at least 50 percent remote employees, it will take an additional month to get a data breach under control. Here, too, the figures are only part of the problem. Working remotely not only increases the chances of a data breach, but it also makes employees more vulnerable to cyber destractions. After all, the children are home too, the dog needs a walk and there is always someone at the door.


Rapid incident response makes a difference

From the report some hopeful results emerge. It turns out that acting quickly is crucial: the sooner you deal with a data breach, the smaller the damage. This is a good lesson for organizations in the Benelux. We tend to underestimate the importance of structure and preparation: what incident response actions do we take in the case of an incident? Who is responsible for that? Clear processes and protocols are vitally important to nipping a data breach in the bud. Do not forget to train your employees. They must be aware of the dangers and know how to effectively execute an incident response plan.


Automation works

The damage of a data breach is 79 percent lower at organizations that have automated their security with AI. This shows the importance of smart automation. It will allow organizations to detect an incident much sooner. In addition, it takes the work off the IT department’s hands. This serves both efficiency and error sensitivity. After all, the human element remains the weakest link in the security chain.


Zero trust

Organizations with a zero trust approach can expect a 42% reduction in the cost of a data breach. Business leaders in the Benelux should pay attention to this outcome. We often have too much trust … and cyber-criminals are only too happy to take advantage of that. So use a zero trust security approach; make sure that every user, device and connection is always secure.

Learn more about current security trends and their financial consequences?
Download the 2021 Cost of Data Breach Report >


Security Leader Benelux @ IBM

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