To estimate the cost of a data breach to the inflicted firm, this study examines the relationship between a breach incident and changes in the inflicted firm’s profitability, perceived risk, and the inflicted firms’ information environment transparency. Profitability is measured as reported earnings and analysts’ earnings forecasts. Perceived risk is measured as reported stock return volatility and dispersion among analysts’ forecasts. Although a number of studies have investigated the stock market reaction surrounding the disclosure of a breach incident to quantify the cost associated with breaches, we argue that there exists information uncertainty and deficiency in the disclosure of the breach incident and stock market reaction surrounding a security breach announcement date may not be the best measure for the cost of security breaches. And research using other complementary measures is warranted. Our preliminary finding suggests that data breaches negatively impact firm profitability, perceived risk and information transparency. Nevertheless, the damage of a breach most likely stems from direct costs such as compensation and litigation costs rather than indirect costs such as tarnished reputation and a decrease in market share and sales. More sophisticated analysts are also found to add value in estimating the real cost of a security breach.
Gwebu, Kholekile L.; Wang, Jing; and Xie, Wenjuan, "UNDERSTANDING THE COST ASSOCIATED WITH DATA SECURITY BREACHES" (2014). PACIS 2014 Proceedings. 386.