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I just read an article regarding the cost of data breaches in 2010. The research was conducted by the Ponemon Institute for Symantec. Of the 51 case studies used in the research, the average cost to the company that was breached in 2010 was $7.2 million.

Those are some big numbers, primarily from large companies. If you are a SMB, a more appropriate number to consider might be the average $214 per compromised record, up from $204 in 2009.

Breaches come in many shapes and sizes. As a professional with a banking/security background many come to mind, some are obvious, some not so much. Here are some examples.

Your firewall and/or network gets hacked by a pro.

– You misplace or outright lose customer data on paper or electronic media.
– A critical vendor who maintains your information is breached.
– Your employee accidentally disposes of or shares sensitive data.
– Employee sabotage.
– Former employee with “back-door” access to your system.
– Your standards for data protection are loose or disregarded, i.e. no “clean desk” policy.

When is the last time you took a fresh look at your information security program and practices? Audits and policies are easy to push down the list, but as one of my favorite bands sang…”Once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right”.

Protect your customers, your reputation, and your company…it just makes good sense.

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