More hidden costs of data breaches – workplace time impact at a national level

The big data breaches have obvious cost impact for business, but also some unspoken hidden costs. Think about the recent breach involving credit history. That was some 140 Million people impacted, mostly in the US. It’s not the first, and won’t be the last.

the hidden costs of data breachesA strong recommendation is that in such a data breach event, people lock down their credit history. A bit like we recommend organizations apply data-centric security to data so that if it’s really needed, it should be unlocked. We do it so that even the locked data can be used by the business for a lot of processes – so unlocking is only when you really, really, really need live data – which for most applications, you don’t.

Anyway, the time taken to lock down your credit report is made up of a few tasks to get it right:

  • Reading reviews and  terms – 10 mins
  • Comparison shopping for services – 15 mins
  • Finding the links to the right free services and avoiding a lot of fake sites – 5 mins
  • Filling out forms or loading apps, storing any passwords in a password keeper so you don’t have yet more stuff at risk  – 15 mins
  • Maybe another service for completeness and reviewing everything is set up -15 mins.

So call that an hour. I suspect an awful lot of people do that on work time. Let’s assume that’s a rough minimum wage of $7.25. Obviously some hourly wages are going to be bigger than this, and some may not be working right now, but for the sake of argument let’s use that.

Let’s also assume about half the people decided to take up the free services during work hours in case they need to call the service provider, chat during business hours etc.So 1 hour, for 70 million people at $7.25 a pop. That’s a staggering $507.5M in lost productivity on basic wages alone. Maybe it’s not an hour, but even half the time is still a huge crater in operational efficiency and cost.

Large data breaches can have big impact on the businesses – the data breach cost reports show that and the most recent ones have that going up at 10-11% from the last Ponemon report. There is mess to clean up, applications to remediate, regulatory purgatory, PR challenges galore, legal and other issue that disrupt the endgame of making a profit or keeping costs down.

However, the employee inconvenience, stress and distraction can have a major impact at a national level on productivity. Let’s hope more companies take a data-centric approach to securing their data so that one hour here and there doesn’t become a more invasive distraction that affects the work-week.


About the Author:
Mark Bower is Global Director of Product Management for Micro Focus. He will be delivering a session at The Teradata PARTNERS 2017 Conference titled, “Mapping Encryption to GDPR requirements: practical use cases.” He is also an author of many articles and blogs, including; “Micro Focus Warns on the Risk of Incomplete Data Protection: A Wake Up Call Following Recent Mega-Breaches,” and “Retail Debit and Credit Card Breach – Help is here.” on the blog.

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