The data breach Richter scale

TD Ameritrade. Gander Mountain. Tennessee Tech University.

These are some of the organizations reporting data breaches – just in the past week alone.

The TD Ameritrade breach is the highlight (or lowlight) of the group, for a few reasons. No. 1: There’s speculation that the contact info of about 6.3 million customers may have been passed along by a company insider.

CompTIA, the leading IT advocacy group, released a report today showing that the severity of breaches has increased over the past year.

Using a zero-to-10 scale, the average breach of the past 12 months was ranked at 4.8. The past two years, that number was 2.3 and 2.6 respectively.

While I’m skeptical of numerical one-to-10 or zero-to-10 rankings such as this one, the increase seems to indicate that administrators and other company officials are realizing the many issues associated with a data breach, not the least of which is bad publicity.

Here’s how organizations broke down their breach-related costs:

*35 percent – employee productivity impacted
*21 percent – server or network downtime
*20 percent – revenue generating activities impacted
*17 percent – physical assets impacted
*Eight percent – Legal fees or fines

And, not to be overlooked, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of companies that experienced a security breach in the past year said they had an insider breach or threat during that time.

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