Do cloud breaches cost more?

Larry Ponemon

Larry Ponemon

Can a data breach in the cloud result in a larger and more costly incident? In short, yes. The more places where data resides, the harder it is to control, and the more it costs to clean up a compromise. The cloud multiplier calculates the increase in the frequency and cost of data breach based on the growth in the use of the cloud and uncertainty as to how much sensitive data is in the cloud.

We surveyed 613 IT and IT security practitioners in the United States who are familiar with their company’s usage of cloud services. The majority of respondents (51
percent) say on-premise IT is equally or less secure than cloud-based services. However, 66 percent of respondents say their organization’s use of cloud resources
diminishes its ability to protect confidential or sensitive information and 64 percent believe it makes it difficult to secure business-critical applications.

As shown in more detail in this report, we consider two types of data breach incidents to determine the cloud multiplier effect. We found that if the data breach involves the loss or theft of 100,000 or more customer records, instead of an average cost of $2.37 million it could be as much as $5.32 million. Data breaches involving the theft of high value information could increase from $2.99 million to $4.16 million.

Faith in cloud providers is not what it should be.

Faith in cloud providers is not what it should be.

A lack of knowledge about the number of computing devices connected to the network and enterprise systems, software applications in the cloud and business critical applications
used in the cloud workplace could be creating a cloud  multiplier effect. Other uncertainties
identified in this research include how much sensitive or confidential information is stored in the cloud.

For the first time, we attempt to quantify the potential scope of a data breach based on typical use of cloud services in the workplace or what can be described as the cloud multiplier effect. The report describes nine scenarios involving the loss or theft of more than 100,000 customer records and a material breach involving the loss or theft of high value IP or business confidential.

When asked to rate their organizations’ effectiveness in securing data and applications used in
the cloud, the majority (51 percent) of respondents say it is low. Only 26 percent rate the
effectiveness as high. Based on their lack of confidence, 51 percent say the likelihood of a data
breach increases due to the cloud.

Key takeaways from this research include the following:
* Cloud security is an oxymoron for many companies.
Sixty-two percent of respondents do not agree or are unsure that cloud services are
thoroughly vetted before deployment. Sixty-nine percent believe there is a failure to be
proactive in assessing information that is too sensitive to be stored in the cloud.
* Certain activities increase the cost of a breach when customer data is lost or stolen.
An increase in the backup and storage of sensitive and/or
confidential customer information in the cloud can cause the most costly breaches. The
second most costly occurs when one of the organization’s primary cloud services provider
expands operations too quickly and information.

Certain activities increase the cost of a breach when high value IP and business
confidential information is lost or stolen. Bring Your  Own Cloud (BYOC) results in the
most costly data breaches involving high value IP. The second most costly is the backup and
storage of sensitive or confidential information in the cloud increases. The least costly occurs
when one of the organization’s primary cloud providers fails an audit failure that concerns the
its inability to securely manage identity and authentication processes.

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