Data Security Breaches Costlier Than They Appear at First Glance

In addition to the continuing (and ever-evolving) need for IT security professionals to protect consumers by fortifying retailers' computer systems, the need for banks to issue new credit cards in the wake of data security breaches can come with a hefty price tag.

Costs associated with the recent security breach involving credit cards used at Target Corp. have topped $200 million for financial institutions, according to data collected by the Consumer Bankers Association and the Credit Union National Association.  The tally by the industry trade groups is the most comprehensive so far in identifying the impact on banks and others from the breach that made vulnerable the card accounts of 40 million Target shoppers.

This led banks to go on a massive spree of new-card issuance: more than 17 million new credit cards sent out to customers, with each individual replacement costing an average of $10 per card.  As if all of those expensive zeroes weren't enough, banks still had to take into account the additional costs associated with any fraudulent activity associated with the stolen card information.

Computer Security firm McAfee also studied the financial impact of the breach.  Robert Siciliano, a McAfee online security expert, says cybercrime costs Americans tens of billions annually, and may be a $1 trillion global problem.  While you can never predict what retailers or banks will do to protect you, Siciliano offers some easy ways to protect yourself.

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