The cost of data breaches to UK firms has risen 68 per cent in the last five years to £79 per affected record, according to new research by security vendor Symantec.
The study examined the data breach costs incurred by 36 UK companies across 11 different industries and the rise is the fifth year in a row that the per-record cost of lost or stolen data has increased, up by £8 from 2010.
Symantec said that negligence remains the primary cause of data breaches, with 36 per cent caused by mistakes by employees or contractors.
Cyber attacks from criminals were also highlighted as a key contributing factor to cost increase, with Symantec reporting a two per cent increase in the number of attacks targeting companies.
"Criminal attacks are mainly electronic agents caused by a malicious insider or hacker," Mike Jones, senior product marketing manager at Symantec told V3.
"Accordingly, organisations need to focus on processes, policies and technologies that address threats from the malicious insider or hacker."
However, while the cost of breaches has gone up, the actual direct organisational costs to businesses had decreased from £1.9m in 2010 to £1.75m in 2011.
Symantec suggested this was because firms were better prepared for breaches and how to handle them.
"We're noticing that companies at risk of data loss are becoming wise to the financial impact of a data breach," added Jones.
"These businesses are implementing steps not just to prevent loss but to mitigate the damage, should a breach occur."
The research noted, though, that some industries suffer higher losses than others, due to the importance of reputation to their business.
"Certain industries, such as financial services and pharmaceutical companies, are more susceptible to customer churn, which causes their data breach costs to be higher than the average," Symantec said.
The cost of data breaches could become even more costly for businesses in the future, as the European Commission pushes for fines as high as two per cent of turnover for major data breaches.
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