Data breach costs surge to record high in 2021

The cost in the UK was above the global average, but the US is home to the most expensive data breaches

The average cost of a data breach has risen to $4.24 million (roughly £3.03 million) per incident globally thanks to technological shifts such as increased remote working and the adoption of cloud technologies.

This is the highest amount in the 17-year history of IBM’s annual data breach costs report, with the average cost of an incident in the UK rising by 8% to £3.36 million. The average cost for each individual record was £131, meanwhile, with the records in the services sector proving the most lucrative, at £191 per record.

A rapid shift to remote working is among the factors fuelling the rise in data breach costs, with incidents costing on average $4.96 million (£3.57 million) when remote working was a factor versus $3.89 million (£2.8 million) otherwise. 

Roughly 60% of businesses were forced to move further into cloud-based activities during the pandemic too, with these changes feeding into an overall 10% rise in the cost of data breaches to $4.24 million (£3.05 million). 

“Higher data breach costs are yet another added expense for businesses in the wake of rapid technology shifts during the pandemic,” said vice president and general manager at IBM Security, Chris McCurdy. 

“While data breach costs reached a record high over the past year, the report also showed positive signs about the impact of modern security tactics, such as AI, automation and the adoption of a zero trust approach – which may pay off in reducing the cost of these incidents further down the line.”

Stolen user credentials were the most common cause of breaches in the study, with customer personal data the most common type of information exposed. What’s more, this combination of factors could cause a spiral effect, with breaches of login details providing attackers with the capabilities to launch additional attacks. 

In terms of mitigation factors, meanwhile, the study showed that the adoption of AI, security analytics and encryption were among the biggest three mitigating factors that reduced the average cost of a breach. These three would save companies between $1.25 million (£900,000) and $1.49 million (£1.07 million) compared to those which didn’t have significant usage of these tools.  

For cloud-based data breaches, organisations with a hybrid cloud approach had lower data breach costs of $3.61 million (£2.6 million). This is against a cost of $4.8 million (£3.46 million) for those with primarily a public cloud setup and $4.55 for businesses with a primarily private cloud approach.

Related Resource

The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Spectrum Virtualize

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by storage built with IBM Spectrum Virtualize

Blue shapes on white background - The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Spectrum Virtualize - whitepaper from IBMFree download

As IBM’s Chris McCurdy alluded to, organsations that have adopted a zero-trust security model reported being better positioned to handle data breaches. This is because the approach operates on the assumption that user identities on the network itself may already be compromised, and relies on AI and analytics to continuously validate connections between users, data and resources.

Although the cost of a data breach in the UK was above the global average, it was far from the region with the highest costs, with the most expensive breaches in the US, with $9.05 million (£6.52 million) per incident. This was followed by the Middle East, at $6.93 million (£4.99 million) per incident, and Canada, at $5.4 million (£3.89 million) per breach.

Featured Resources

The definitive guide to warehouse efficiency

Get your free guide to creating efficiencies in the warehouse

Free download

The total economic impact™ of Datto

Cost savings and business benefits of using Datto Integrated Solutions

Download now

Three-step guide to modern customer experience

Support the critical role CX plays in your business

Free download

Ransomware report

The global state of the channel

Download now

Recommended

Senate report slams agencies for poor cyber security
cyber security

Senate report slams agencies for poor cyber security

3 Aug 2021
Most employees put their workplace at risk by taking cyber security shortcuts
cyber security

Most employees put their workplace at risk by taking cyber security shortcuts

27 Jul 2021
61% of organizations say improving security a top priority for 2021
cyber security

61% of organizations say improving security a top priority for 2021

29 Jun 2021
ProtectedBy.AI’s CodeLock blocks malware at source code level
software as a service (SaaS)

ProtectedBy.AI’s CodeLock blocks malware at source code level

9 Jun 2021

Most Popular

What are the pros and cons of AI?
machine learning

What are the pros and cons of AI?

8 Sep 2021
Google takes down map showing homes of 111,000 Guntrader customers
data breaches

Google takes down map showing homes of 111,000 Guntrader customers

2 Sep 2021
Intuit plans end-to-end SMB platform after $12 billion Mailchimp acquisition
mergers and acquisitions

Intuit plans end-to-end SMB platform after $12 billion Mailchimp acquisition

14 Sep 2021