Major data breaches predicted as firms cut IT spending

12 Nov 2008

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As the recession continues to bite and firms look at ways of cutting corners on spending, it is vital companies don’t scrimp on protecting their data assets.

While weakening economic conditions are forcing organisations across Ireland to cut costs, the increase of both external and internal data breaches re-iterates the importance of data protection, IT player Kroll Ontrack said today.

Companies that cut corners regarding data protection risk fines and a decline in profits, as well as detrimental effects on reputation and customer-retention levels.

According to a Gartner study, the cost of a sensitive data breach will increase by 20pc in 2009, as breaches become less opportunist and more targeted.

Despite this, Kroll Ontrack research has revealed that three quarters of Irish and UK businesses do not have a data-loss contingency plan in place.

Last week, Bank of Ireland reported further customer data loss after a USB drive was declared missing. This follows the disappearance of data from 31,000 customers earlier this year, when four of the bank’s laptops were stolen.

Kroll Ontrack believes that organisations must take action to prevent potentially crippling damage to the business. By recognising the value of customer data and taking proactive steps to protect it, companies can mimimise associated side effects of loss, such as reputational damage.

“Data protection is not a nice-to-have but a must,” said Ciaran Farrell, business development manager at Kroll Ontrack Ireland.

“All organisations, public or private, should be implementing encryption policies, training their staff and third-party agencies in how to protect data, and never allowing sensitive material to go off-site without safety measures in place.

“The financial and reputational cost of a data breach is increasing exponentially, and both the public and private sectors are already in the dock when it comes to data protection,” Farrell warned.

“Effective data protection costs very little, so organisations need to see through the recession to the real cost when something goes wrong,” he said.

By John Kennedy

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com