Ask the Experts: Assessing the Cost of Security Breaches

High-stakes hacking has been a major theme for American businesses in 2014. The recent wave of data…

Georgia (Dec 18, 2014) — High-stakes hacking has been a major theme for American businesses in 2014. The recent wave of data breaches at popular retailers have made consumers more aware — and warier — of the very real threat that their sensitive financial information could slip easily into criminal hands.


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In the past year-plus, hackers have infiltrated the payment systems of several big-name retailers — the most notable of which include Target in late 2013 and most recently Home Depot — accessing credit and debit card data for more than 100 million consumers. Other recognizable names that suffered breaches of lesser scales involved Neiman Marcus, P.F. Chang’s, Michael’s and Supervalu….


Michael Whitman
Director of the Center for Information Security Education and Professor of Information Systems at Kennesaw State University, Coles College of Business

What are the lasting lessons from the recent string of high-profile data breaches? 

We live in an era where data breaches are not an IF, they’re a WHEN. Perfect security is a myth. Any organization, any individual can be the target of a data breach. The level of sophistication shown in each of these breaches indicates ‘professional hackers’ - individuals or groups who was able to breach these businesses’ systems and extract data. The Target and Neiman Marcus attacks in particular showed a very advanced level of technical ability, with – in the case of Target - a custom malware attack bypassing industry standard security systems. The Michael’s attack has been attributed to Ukrainian hackers, and is generally considered less sophisticated than the others.

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