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Does Big Business Have a Big Problem With Identity Theft?

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Sometimes, two little-noticed research projects can combine to make one major point.

In January, the Identity Theft Resource Center reported that 2016 was the worst year ever for data breaches at a company level — “an all-time record high of 1,093.”

That’s a big jump from 780 in 2015. Where did the increase come from? Hacked businesses represented more than 45 percent of the total.

You’d think that would be enough to worry not only IT directors but also chief financial officers, who must tally the costs of each breach. Yet CFOs don’t even rank that in their top three concerns.

A survey of CFOs by talent firm Robert Half asked, “Which single work challenge, if any, most often keeps you up at night?”

The top results…

“Security threats to IT systems” placed a distant fifth at only 8 percent.

Given the record-setting number of data breaches afflicting businesses, I expected that number to be much higher.

As a businessman myself, I understand the psychology of prevention. You have so many fires to extinguish right now. It’s difficult to make time and brain space for worrying about something that might happen; but which might not, either.

Still, this is such a pervasive (and expensive) problem, I’m surprised larger businesses haven’t taken it more seriously.

Perhaps there’s a silver lining to last year’s record-setting number of data breaches: If the problem grows into a full-blown crisis, businesses will have to stay awake at night.

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