The Cost of a Phishing-Related Data Breach Has Never Been Higher

September 02, 2022

No organization is ever ready to pay the cost of a data breach. But many unfortunate organizations end up in that position every year, and now it will cost them even more money to recover, especially if their data breach is phishing related. The IBM Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report revealed that the cost of a data breach has gone up and that the presence or absence of some elements changes that calculus. Many factors can impact the cost of a data breach, and a data breach is much more expensive if the attack vector of a data breach is phishing.   

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Data breach cost has reached a new record

The cost of a data breach in 2022 is a new record $4.35 million. That’s an increase of 2.6% from the 2021 data breach cost of $4.2 million per incident, and a substantial increase in the cost of a breach in a two-year span, up 12.7% from 2020’s $3.86 million. The cost of a data breach may have only grown a little between 2021 and 2022, but it has grown substantially over a two-year period. This year’s data breach costs 12.7% more than a breach in 2020 at $3.86 million, illustrating the constantly rising danger of a data security incident to a company’s bottom line.    

Source: IBM

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Data breach costs vary by country 

Geography plays a role in the cost of a data breach. A host of factors that vary from region to region drive the price up or down like the availability of skilled IT staffers, regulatory penalties, currency valuation or seasonal complications. To no one’s surprise, the U.S. is in the top spot for data breach cost for the 12th consecutive year, with an average data breach cost of $9.44 million. That’s a 4.3% increase over 2021. The Middle East region had the second-highest cost of a data breach, increasing from $ 6.93 million in 2021 to $7.46 million in 2022, a change of 7.6%. Rounding out the top three, Canada was again the third highest cost country at $5.64 million up 4.4% from 2021.   

Unfortunately for U.K.-based companies, that region ascended four spots on the chart in 2022, jumping from eighth to fourth. The average total cost of a breach in the United Kingdom is $5.05 million, up 8.1% from 2021. The largest relative cost increase occurred in Brazil. While it’s 16th on the list at $1.38 million, that was an increase of 27.8% over 2021’s numbers. One bright spot is the fact that six of the 17 regions in the survey — Germany, Japan, France, South Korea, Scandinavia and Turkey — saw a decrease in the average total cost of a data breach. The largest cost decrease enjoyed by Turkey in 17th place, where costs Turkey plummeted by 42%, dropping to $1.11 million this year. 

The Top 5 Countries or Regions with the Highest Data Breach Cost  

  1. The United States = $9.44 million   
  2. The Middle East = $7.46 million   
  3. Canada = $5.64 million   
  4. The United Kingdom = $5.05 million   
  5. Germany = $4.85 million 

Source: IBM

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Phishing & related attacks add expense 

The average data breach takes 277 days to identify and contain, but the presence or absence of certain technologies and the attack vector can make a huge difference in that cost. Vectors with longer mean times to identify and contain, such as phishing or business email compromise, spawn the most expensive data breaches. Stolen or compromised credentials are the initial attack vector with the longest mean time to identify and contain a breach, 327 days. That time is 16.6% greater than the overall mean time to identify and contain a data breach.  

If phishing or a phishing-related cyberattack is the vector for a data breach, it’s going to cost more than average. Breaches caused by business email compromise had the second highest mean time to identify and contain, at 308 days. Phishing can send the cost of a data breach soaring too. It is the costliest attack vector and it has the third highest mean time to identify and contain at 295 days. 

Source: IBM

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AI slashes data breach cost 

Companies that have chosen to invest in automation and AI-powered tools save a substantial sum in the event that they have a data breach. How much? Fully deployed security automation and AI-enabled tools reduce breach costs by a whopping 65.2%. Researchers determined that a data breach in an organization that has fully deployed security AI and automation costs $3.05 million less than breaches at organizations without AI and automation deployed.  The massive savings that businesses get from fully deployed automation and AI is the largest cost savings in the study, providing even more evidence that automation and AI are security game-changers.   

Source: IBM

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