A security breach experienced by Woolworths, an Australian supermarket chain, further fuels the debate on the growing costs of data breaches worldwide. Last week, a spreadsheet with the personal details (names, emails and gift codes) of thousands of Woolworths customers was mistakenly emailed to around 1,000 people, highjacking the supermarket’s entire gift card distribution. And more than $1 million worth of gift cards later, the company has issued an apology and canceled the gift cards altogether.
“Woolworths takes the concerns of its customers and data security seriously,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Mashable Australia. “On Saturday we were alerted to a technical fault with an e-gift card offered to customers. These e-gift cards have been canceled and affected customers have been provided with new e-gift cards for use in-store. Woolworths apologizes for the inconvenience this has caused our customers.”
While it is not clear at this point whether the error was human or technical, there will be costs. The average cost per record for a system glitch is $142 and human error or negligence costs $137, according to Ponemon Institute. Financial costs of security breaches include hiring experts and monitoring credit of those affected by the breach, for instance.
Woolworths is far from being an isolated case. The same study pinpoints that data breach costs have been skyrocketing over the years reaching $3.8 million on average in 2014, a 23 percent increase compared to 2013. Home Depot, for instance, spent roughly $33 million for data breach costs following a cyberattack last year which impacted 56 million payment cards.