The cost of security breaches are staggering. Just ask former Target President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel, who was just given the boot following a massive security breach last December. The board of directors, it seems, wants a new face to restore consumer confidence.

It’s probably just a coincidence, but news broke last night that IBM was releasing new security software and services. It also comes as the Ponemon Institute released research that shows the cost of data breaches increased 15 percent in the past year to $3.5 million or an average of $145 per record breached.

Target’s Security Breach

In light of these figures, one could understand the anxiety of the board of directors for Target, one of the top US retailers.

Target disclosed the cyber attack in December, revealing the theft of at least 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other pieces of customer data. At a cost of $145 per record breach, Target ended up paying a considerable sum of money for something that could have been avoided. 

Where all this leaves Target in terms of its business and financials remains to be seen, with quarterly figures due later this month. From an IT perspective, however, the real points of interest are the massive cost of ignoring data security and the fact that the consequences will reach all the way up the corporate ladder to the C-Suite — far beyond the laps of overworked IT administers.

The announcement last night that it was upgrading its security services was, considering the ongoing fallout over Target, a timely one.

IBM has been working on security for close to forever, but the new services announced last night -- just as Steinhafel was packing his executive toys into a box -- are the result of two years of investment and the acquisition of some notable security and data heavy hitters, such as Q1 Labs, Trusteer, Guardium, Ounce Labs, Watchfire and Fiberlink/MaaS360.

It also follows the creation of a dedicated cyber security business in late 2011, which has produced some pretty impressive double digit growth figures despite difficulties IBM is having in other business areas, particularly hardware.

Given the figures that the Ponemon Institute has produced, it’s no mystery why businesses are so interested in these kinds of tools. The majority of companies surveyed by Ponemon, for example, say targeted attacks are one of their biggest problems, costing them on average $9.4 million in brand equity alone.

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