By Joseph Chalfant

IBM reported on July 29 that the cost of data breaches had reached a 17-year high.

The company released its annual Cost of a Data Breach Report, which observed 537 breaches to offer industry insight into evolving cybersecurity risks. The report showed that the average cost of a data breach spiked from $3.86 million to $4.24 million, increasing $380,000 over last year. 

The report further showed that remote work-involved breaches led to significantly higher costs for victims, a common occurrence during the pandemic. Remote work data breaches cost an average of $1.07 million more than incidents occurring in standard work environments. 

survey from late 2020 showed that companies pushed for permanent remote work due to decreased running costs and increased productivity. Interest in remote work was so high that experts predicted that the American economy would double its remote workforce.

IBM discovered that the plurality of attacks had come from compromised credentials as 20% of breaches were due to failed credential security. These attacks raised the average cost of a breach to $4.37 million.

The company noted that the best method to mitigate cost was to adopt security AI that had saved victims an average of $3.81 million when breaches did occur. Companies that implemented modernized cloud systems managed to contain breaches an average of 77 days sooner than those without.

Zero trust security measures also reduced the costs of breaches. Zero trust security requires networks to continuously monitor and validate users to limit breaches. IBM found that companies who used this security strategy saved $1.76 million over traditional “Trust but Verify” systems.

“Higher data breach costs are yet another added expense for businesses in the wake of rapid technology shifts during the pandemic,” said vice president and general manager of IBM Security Chris McCurdy, according to Fox Business. 

“While data breach costs reached a record high over the past year, the report also showed positive signs about the impact of modern security tactics, such as AI, automation, and the adoption of a zero-trust approach – which may pay off in reducing the cost of these incidents further down the line,” he continued.