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US Firms Pay $7.2 Million Per Data Breach

An annual study of 51 leading US companies has revealed that the average cost incurred by a single data breach increased by 7 per cent to $7.2 million in 2010.

The study '2010 U.S. Cost of a Data Breach', which was conducted by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of security company Symantec, revealed that companies that lost sensitive customer data, like social security numbers, suffered heavy losses.

The most expensive data breach caused losses of $35.3 million, up 15% from last year. The company that incurred the loss was not named in the report.

The Ponemon Institute, which is an information security company, said that the average data breach cost incurred per individual record lost had risen to $214 in 2010, up from $204 in 2009. The rising cost of data breaches is driven by a complex set of laws and regulations laid down by the US government.

The study interviewed executives of 51 US companies spread across 15 business sectors who were willing to talk about the data breaches in their organisations. Last year, 85 per cent of US companies had data breaches but there could be more as several companies don't have the expertise to spot a data breach.

Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said in a statement “Confronted with both malicious and non-malicious threats from inside and outside the organization, companies must proactively implement policies and technologies to mitigate the risk of costly breaches.”