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Cybercrime Costs Each Business $11.7M Per Year

The most expensive attacks are malware infections, which cost global businesses $2.4 million per incident.

The average cost of cybercrime in 2017 was $11.7 million per organization, a 23% increase from $9.5 million in 2016 and a 62% increase over the past five years for global businesses.

In a new study, "The Cost of Cybercrime" by Accenture and the Ponemon Institute, researchers polled 2,182 security and IT pros across 254 organizations around the world. They found each company experiences 130 breaches per year, a 27.4% increase from 2016 and nearly double its count five years ago. And as cyber attacks increase, so too does their cost.

The study considered four key impacts of cybercrime: business disruption, data loss, revenue loss, and equipment damage. Forty-three percent of respondents said information loss is most damaging; the least is business disruption, which dropped from 39% in 2015 to 33% this year.

Malware infections are the most expensive type of cyber attack, at an average of $2.4 million per infection globally ($3.82 million in the United States). Web-based attacks, the second most expensive, cost $2 million per incident globally ($3.40 million per incident in the US).

Financial services and energy were the hardest-hit sectors in 2017, with average annual costs of $18.28 million and $17.20 million, respectively. Australia reports the lowest total average attack cost at $5.41 million, and the UK had the lowest year-over-year cost change ($7.21 million in 2016 to $8.74 in 2017). US companies spend more to address all types of cyber attacks.

Outside studies support the idea that cybercrime costs differ across businesses and industries. Forrester recently found data breach costs vary significantly by organization. Furthermore, publicly reported numbers typically represent short-term costs and don't always include regulatory fines, losses in productivity, lawsuits, brand damage, and additional security and audit requirements.

Costs may also vary depending on the type of data compromised. For example, a breach of intellectual property will have different costs than a breach of customer or employee data.

Companies investing to protect themselves may benefit from a change in strategy, experts suggest. Results indicate most spend the greatest bulk of their security budgets on advanced perimeter controls but don't see the investment pay off. Those deploying perimeter systems only see cost savings of $1 million, a sign of inefficiencies in resource allocation.

Security intelligence systems, which collect data from various sources to help identify and prioritize threats, are among the most effective tools for reducing cybercrime costs. These saved businesses about $2.8 million, more than all other technologies included in the survey.

The least popular tools are automation, orchestration, and machine learning technologies, which are deployed only among 28% of respondents. Yet these deliver the third-highest cost savings overall, at $2.2 million per organization.

Jeff Pollard, principal analyst serving security and risk professionals at Forrester, anticipates automation will become more common as security teams are overwhelmed with threat alerts from better detection tools. If you already receive 100 alerts per day and invest in a better detection tool, you'll be challenged to handle the additional alerts.

"If you were already struggling with the 100 you were dealing with … you're even further behind than you were before," he says. Vendors are starting to pop up in the orchestration space to help businesses prioritize the most critical threats and ease the burden on their teams.

Researchers advise investing in basic tools like security intelligence and advanced access management to lay the groundwork for a strong strategy. On top of that, businesses should go beyond compliance and conduct extreme pressure testing to detect vulnerabilities.

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