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Counting the cost of a data breach

Contributor:
Dan Raywood
Date published
12/2/2015 8:00:48 AM

If you consider 2007 to be year zero for major data breaches which affected the public, then 2014 was the year it came of age and started to gain some actionable education.

2007 was the year of the HMRC data breach, where two discs containing 25 million child benefit personal records were lost by TNT after they went were sent in the internal mail to the National Audit Office. This story became the point for many Government agencies and businesses to consider how they could prevent this from happening to them, and what they would do if it were so unfortunate.

This loss was a shake up for Government, and seven years on, 2014 was labelled by some as “the year of the breach”. The evidence is there to see why this was the case: eBay, Neiman Marcus, PF Changs and Affinity Gaming were all those affected, and this is to name a few. The ways in which they were breached varied but the common factor was the press interest, impact on customers and action by the senior management.

The most notorious was arguably on the US retailer Target, not only for the sophistication of the attack but what followed.

In the aftermath was the departure of the Chief Executive Gregg Steinhefel, Target profit fell nearly 50 per cent in its fourth fiscal quarter of 2013, and the steady stream of negative press did not help either.

At the other end of 2014 was the attack on and major breach of data at Sony Pictures, which also saw key departures of Bob Osher and Amy Pascal. There was a financial impact with the release of the film “The Interview” initially postponed and eventually very scaled down.

This was a $44 million  production, and the salaries of its leading actors Seth Rogen and James Franco were also leaked. Would this instil confidence in the investor, producer, cast and crew? As with the Target breach, senior management had to fall on their swords. Was this because the customer demanded it, or more likely, was this a way to reduce loss of impact on the share price?

Look at the breaches of data as sensitive as those seeking extra marital affairs (Ashley Madison), those contemplating abortions (BPAS) and those with HIV, in each case there is a victim and a point of blame and with private industry it is becoming all too common for senior management to need to take action to prevent further damage.

In our on-demand webinar, we look at these and other cases of data loss and the commercial impact upon businesses and discussing how proactivity can avoid you being the next victim of such attacks.