55% of IT leaders in the US kept data breaches confidential, finds study

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Data breaches pose a grave threat to businesses, leading to substantial financial losses, legal consequences, and damage to reputation. When faced with such incidents, organizations must promptly and transparently respond to mitigate harm to their customers and stakeholders.

A recent study conducted by the Atlas VPN team reveals that 42% of IT leaders have been instructed to keep data breaches confidential. Additionally, over half of businesses acknowledged experiencing a data breach within the past year.

These findings are derived from the Bitdefender 2023 Cybersecurity Assessment report, which surveyed 400 IT professionals from various industries in the USA, UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, working in organizations with 1,000 or more employees.

data breaches

A significant number of IT professionals, approximately 30%, chose to conceal data breaches instead of reporting them, despite being aware of the need for disclosure. This decision aligns them with hackers, allowing their crimes to go unnoticed. Disturbingly, the affected customers remain oblivious to the fact that their data has fallen into the hands of criminals.

Country-wise analysis reveals that US businesses exhibited the least responsible behavior in handling data breaches. More than 70% of IT leaders were instructed to maintain confidentiality, and 55% complied by keeping data theft incidents under wraps, despite recognizing the necessity of reporting.

On the other hand, companies in Germany demonstrated greater responsibility in addressing data breaches. Among the surveyed IT leaders, 35% were advised to maintain confidentiality, but only 15% followed through. Moreover, 54% neither received instructions nor kept breaches confidential.

Within UK businesses, a significant percentage of IT professionals, 44%, were advised to maintain silence regarding data breaches. Alarmingly, 36% of these professionals adhered to this advice and chose not to disclose the breach. However, it is worth noting that 1 in 4 IT managers neither received such guidance nor opted for secrecy when facing a data breach.

In contrast, French IT leaders were less likely to receive instructions to keep data breaches confidential, with only 25% encountering such situations. Conversely, 37% of IT managers in Italian companies were advised to remain silent about data breaches. The same recommendation was given to 35% of professionals in Spain.

Trouble for US businesses

The occurrence of data breaches in the corporate landscape has witnessed a concerning rise, leading to severe ramifications that the striking numbers clearly illustrate. To effectively navigate the evolving technological landscape, businesses must acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and adapt their security measures accordingly.

Remarkably, a significant 52% of companies have encountered a data breach within the past year. However, when we delve into the country-specific statistics, one particular nation stands out from the rest.

Approximately 75% of IT leaders in the US openly acknowledge their companies experiencing a data breach within the past year. The gravity of this statistic is further exacerbated by the fact that 55% of professionals opted to remain silent about these breaches. Notably, US regulations stipulate that data breaches impacting more than 500 individuals must be reported within 10 business days.

In an era where data breaches have become an unfortunate reality, such practices undermine the fundamental principles of transparency, accountability, and proactive risk mitigation. Organizations must recognize that concealing data breaches erodes customer trust and impedes the collective effort required to combat cyber threats.

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Also read: Intercede is the Leader in KuppingerCole Secrets Management Leadership Compass 2023

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