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Has remote working led to a rise in global data breaches?

As remote working has increased so have data breach vulnerabilities.

Remote working / home working, using a laptop. — Image by © Tim Sandle
Remote working / home working, using a laptop. — Image by © Tim Sandle

Remote work has increased by 44 percent in the past five years. This has been coincidental with a significant increase in the number of data breaches companies are experiencing. Is this correlation a sign of causation (as earlier patterns suggest) and if so, how has the cost of a data breach been affected by remote working?

Analysts at the firm Proxyrack have looked into the countries and industries losing the most money to data breaches, the countries most commonly targeted by data breaches as well as the effect remote working has had on the cost of data breaches. The inference is that as remote working has increased so have vulnerabilities and, following this, cybersecurity incidences leading to data loss have substantially risen.

The outcome of the analysis is shown in the following table:

The Effects of Remote Working on the Cost of a Data Breach

RankPercentage of Remote EmployeesAverage Data Breach Cost (year)
181% – 100%$5,540,000
261% – 80%$4,390,000
310% – 20%$4,210,000
421% – 40%$4,020,000
5Less than 10%$3,650,000
641% – 60%$3,150,000

The analysis shows that data breaches affecting companies with the highest percentage of remote employees (81-100 percent) were the costliest across a one year period, averaging over $5 million.

The analysis also finds that the average cost of a data breach in the healthcare industry is $9.23 million, which is the highest of any of the industries profiled. The financial industry has the second highest average data breach cost at $5.27 million.

Following this, the U.S. is the most commonly targeted country in the world by data breaches with 7,221,177 breaches per million people. France followed in second, with 6,488,574 breaches per million people.

Also with the North America area, the U.S. has the highest data breach cost in the world, with an average cost of $9,050,000, nearly $5,000,000 higher than the global average of $4,240,000.  In total, the U.S. has had over 2.4 billion data breaches, with 30 million happening in 2022 and 452 million occurring in the last three years.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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