September 19, 2016 By Douglas Bonderud 2 min read

Security breaches aren’t cheap. A recent Ponemon Institute report noted that the average consolidated total cost of a breach hit $4 million in 2016, while the cost per report reached $158. Meanwhile, a new study from Kaspersky Lab that took an in-depth look at the cost of a security incident for both SMBs and enterprise organizations. Simply put, time and money conspire to make this an expensive problem to solve.

The Cost of a Security Incident: Going Up!

There’s a big difference between the cost of data breaches for SMBs and those of enterprises. On average, the recovery total is $86,500 for small companies and almost 10 times that amount — $861,000 — for enterprises. Digging deeper, the study found that allocating IT staff time to handle the mitigation and aftermath of a breach was the single largest cost borne by both small and large businesses.

The time to detection also played a role. While breaches still cost $28,000 for SMBs and $105,000 for big business when instantly detected, a lag time of even seven days bumped up the cost of a security incident to $105,000 and $393,000, respectively. It makes sense: The longer malicious actors have access to a system undetected, the more damage they can do and the more time IT professionals need to clean up the mess.

The report also noted that many SMBs and enterprises are now spending on security to help mitigate threats. Small businesses are shelling out an average 18 percent of their budgets on security, and enterprises are allocating 21 percent to implement solid security measures.

Problems persist, however, since security spending doesn’t always correlate with lower breach costs. Both zero-day and targeted attacks can potentially bypass even solid network security. It’s also worth noting some differences between SMB and corporate attacks. Cybercriminals prefer to target small businesses on mobile, while enterprises suffer more hacktivist attacks.

Tangible Takeaways?

With the cost of a security incident on the rise for both small and large organizations, what’s the next step for companies? As noted by eWeek, there are several steps that can help reduce the impact.

First up is better employee training. Not only does staff awareness of potential attack vectors, such as phishing or social media scams, help reduce attack potential, but the Ponemon study also found that training lowered the cost of a data breach by $9 per record.

There are other ways to save on security incidents, such as securing solid C-suite buy in. If executives can be convinced of the need for agile security before a breach occurs, the result is minimal spending upfront and bigger savings over time.

It’s also worth taking a long view of the security landscape. The Kaspersky data suggested that throwing money at the problem won’t guarantee success. Instead, companies need to find a balance between security spending and day-to-day operations. Once a baseline response and recovery time objective has been identified, tested and regularly met, it may be time to rein in breach budgets and instead concentrate on line-of-business benefits.

The cost of a security incident is going up for SMBs and enterprises alike. Tamping down total spend means better employee training, involving C-suite and recognizing that no matter how big the budget, breaches are part of the business.

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