The Cost Of A Data Breach Is Increasing

Data breach concept art. Cost of data breach is increasing.

Written by: Jay H.

Cybercrime continues to be a lucrative endeavor for criminals. The average cost of a data breach is only rising, according to IBM’s 17th-annual Cost of a Data Breach report.

Of the breaches impacting 537 organizations across 17 countries and industries, the average total cost of a data breach was $4.24 million. This is the highest cost in the survey’s history and a 10 percent increase from 2020. This means if attackers breach your organization, you can expect to pay more than ever!

IBM average total cost of a data breach graph

Image: IBM

Researchers say that security incidents have become harder and more costly to contain due to COVID-19 forcing people to work from home. Many did not have cybersecurity protocols in place, like firewalls, VPNs, and antivirus. In fact, breaches cost on average over $1 million more when remote work was a factor in the data breach versus breaches where remote work wasn’t a factor.

Results By Industry

Healthcare had the highest average total cost of a data breach for the eleventh year in a row. The average cost also increased from $7.13 million in 2020 to $9.23 million in 2021, representing a whopping 29.5 percent increase!

The top industries for average total cost after healthcare included financial ($5.72 million), pharmaceuticals ($5.04 million). technology ($4.88 million), and energy ($4.65 million).

IBM average total cost of a data breach by industry graph

Image: IBM

Clearly, data breaches are extremely costly for any organization in any industry. So, businesses need a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy in place to prevent attackers from breaching their networks and wreaking havoc.

Canadian Results

Of the 26 Canadian organizations surveyed, the average total cost of a data breach was $5.35 million, making it the country with the third-highest cost. Moreover, the average number of exposed records per breach was 24,400.

“While it’s not a surprise that data breach costs rose to their highest level during the pandemic, it should be a stark reminder for businesses to not let security lag behind as they accelerate their digital transformation,” Ray Boisvert, an IBM Canada associate partner for security strategy, said in a statement.

“For Canadian financial and technology companies in particular, who are digitizing faster than others in the country and paying more per lost or stolen record, investment in data security, AI and encryption should go hand in hand with cloud migration.”


IBM provided numerous recommendations for businesses to minimize the cost of a data breach, including:

  • Invest in security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) to help improve detection and response times.
  • Adopt a zero-trust security model to help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.
  • Stress-test your incident response plan to increase cyber resilience.
  • Use tools that help protect and monitor endpoints and remote employees.
  • Invest in governance, risk management, and compliance programs.
  • Embrace an open security architecture and minimize the complexity of IT and security environments.
  • Protect sensitive data in cloud environments using policy and encryption.

Your organization can minimize its security risks by partnering with a managed IT service provider such as Design2Web IT. We can create and enact a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for your business that ensures all endpoints, servers, and mobile devices are secure from viruses, malware, ransomware, and hackers. Contact us today to learn more.

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