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Data breach impact can linger for years, could cost more than $100M, says SANS study

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The impact of a data breach can be felt for years and could cost more than $100 million in some cases, according to a study released Tuesday by the SANS Institute and security firm Identity Finder.

The data breach costs range from a mere $1,000 to more than $100 million, with 31 percent falling in the $1,000 to $100,000 range. The impact from the breach was felt from one day to more than three years according to the study, which interviewed executives from companies that had been breached. 

The primary avenues for the breach were hacking/malware (35 percent), unauthorized access (27 percent) and physical theft (23 percent).

In terms of information targeted, personal information, such as Social Security numbers, was the data most often stolen, followed by identity and financial information.

"The bad guys go after the sensitive data ... If they get a hold of a bunch of Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or IP in the case of industrial espionage, that is financially damaging. Yet, not many firms understand which data is worth protecting and if it is not protected what amount of damage is caused," Johannes Hoech, chief marketing officer at Identity Finder, told FierceITSecurity.

The report recommended that companies classify their sensitive data, assess the risks to that data, get cyber insurance, and have a plan in place to implement when a breach does occur.

"This study was not as much about breach costs but more about what are the impacts post breach and how to mitigate them. Our emphasis is more actionable," Barbara Filkins, health care privacy and security consultant and SANS Institute senior analyst, told FierceITSecurity.

In conjunction with the release of the report, Identity Finder released the latest version of its data loss prevention (DLP) platform, Sensitive Data Manager 9.0, which introduces custom data discovery capabilities to help enterprises locate unique sensitive data.

Sensitive Data Manager 9.0 also increases automation of classification and DLP security controls, reaching into cloud environments to increase data protection efforts and manage sensitive data.

For more:
- see the Identity Finder release

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