There’s no such thing as an easy security breach. Unless of course you’re a hacker — all too often they seem to easily breach the security of way too many websites. (Check out the OWASP Top 10 to learn more about common exploits)

But if you’re a business owner, being the victim of a data breach is certainly costly. Just how costly is a data breach? Well, that depends a great deal on circumstances and luck.

But here’s just a selection of some of the costs you might be facing:

1. Time, Distraction, and Aggravation

Any security breach, no matter the type or size, is going to be a distraction. The bigger the breach, the greater the distraction. And that’s going to cost you in time, aggravation, and lost sleep. And that distraction could continue for months and even years.

2. Fines

Fines for security breaches can come from so many places and mount up to a hefty bill you might not be able to cover. You could face state and federal fines, industry fines (from the SEC, for example), and even fines and other penalties from card processors if credit or debit cards were exposed.

3. Forensics

Depending on the size and nature of the breach, you may have to hire independent security forensics teams who can independently verify how the breach happened, what was exposed, and whose fault it was. Their fees can run into the tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

4. Legal

One of your first phone calls should be to your lawyer to find out what your legal exposure and obligations might be. If you don’t have a lawyer, then you may have to spend a lot of valuable time looking for one. And if you do have a lawyer, they may have to bring in a separate law firm that has experience handling security and data breaches.

5. Public Relations

If the breach is big, or you lose very sensitive data, you might need to hire a PR firm. And maybe not just any PR firm, but one that has direct experience in managing long-term crisis communications and damage control.

6. Downtime

All that running around – looking for answers, hiring or meeting lawyers and PR people, dealing with angry customers and unforgiving regulators – could mean significant downtime for you and key employees. Which means your business could grind to a standstill.

7. Lost customers

Often the first thing you lose in a security breach are your customers. Customers are becoming less forgiving of businesses that lose their customer information. Even if it’s something that won’t do them much harm, like a credit card number. But especially if you lose something much more serious like a Social Security Number. Or even an email address. And once gone they may be gone forever.

8. Employee Morale

You can never ignore the feelings of your employees in the wake of a security breach. They don’t want to be associated with an event that betrays the trust of their customers, any more than you do. And just like lost customers, it may take years for employee morale to recover from a publicized breach.

9. Lawsuits

Sometimes in security breaches, if the hackers don’t do you in the lawyers will. There’s a whole new category of lawyers who specialize in suing after security breaches. And they’ll pounce on any opportunity to generate significant fees from your bad luck.

10. Reputation

Many would argue that your business reputation is your most important asset. Tarnish it, and it will cost you. Word spreads quickly about security breaches. And if the breaches (or lawsuits) drag on for years, your reputation might never recover its original shine.

Make sure that you steer clear of these costs. Contact SiteLock today for a free consultation with our website security specialists to learn how proactively protecting your website can keep your costs down while boosting website performance and SEO at the same time.

Google Author: Neal O’Farrell