Global Cybersecurity Study: Insider Threats Cost Organisations $11.45 Million Annually, up 31 Percent from 2018

Financial Services and Insurance

More than 60 percent of insider threats are the result of negligent employee or contractor behaviour

 Proofpoint, Inc., (NASDAQ: PFPT), a leading cybersecurity and compliance company, today released its Cost of Insider Threats 2020 Global Report to identify the costs and trends associated with negligent, compromised, and malicious insiders. Notably, on average, impacted organisations spent $11.45 million annually on overall insider threat remediation and took 77 days to contain each incident.

The report, commissioned with The Ponemon Institute and co-sponsored by IBM, surveyed nearly 1,000 IT and IT security practitioners across North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. Each organisation included in the study experienced one or more material events caused by an insider. Over the last two years, the frequency and costs associated with insider threats increased dramatically across all three insider threat categories, including: careless or negligent employees/contractors, criminal or malicious insiders, and cybercriminal credential theft.

“With an average cost of more than $600K per incident, insider threats must be a leading concern for companies worldwide,” said Mike McKee, executive vice president and general manager of Insider Threat Management for Proofpoint. “Organisational insiders, including employees, contractors, and third-party vendors, are an attractive attack vector for cybercriminals due to their far-reaching access to critical systems, data, and infrastructure. Given that users regularly work across a wide range of applications and systems, we recommend layered defenses, including a dedicated insider threat management solution and strong security awareness training, to provide the best protection against these types of attacks.”

This year’s Cost of Insider Threats 2020 Global Report key findings include:

  • Organisations impacted by insider threats spent an average of $11.45 million annually—that’s up 31 percent from $8.76 million in 2018.
  • More than 60 percent of reported insider threat incidents were the result of a careless employee or contractor and 23 percent were caused by malicious insiders. A total of 14 percent of all insider threat incidents involved cybercriminals stealing credentials.
  • The number of incidents has also increased by a staggering 47 percent in just two years, from 3,200 in 2018 (Ponemon) to 4,700 in 2020.
  • The longer an insider threat incident lingers, the costlier it gets. Incidents that took more than 90 days to contain cost organisations $13.71 million on an annualised basis, while incidents that lasted less than 30 days cost roughly half, at $7.12 million. It takes an average of more than two months (77 days) to contain an insider incident.
  • The larger the organisation the more insider incidents. Large organisations with a headcount of more than 75,000 spent an average of $17.92 million over the past year. To contrast, smaller organisations with a headcount below 500 spent an average of $7.68 million.  
  • The financial services industry spent more to contain insider threats per incident than other sectors. Over the past two years the average financial services industry spend was $14.3 million to contain an incident verses $11.54 million for energy and utilities companies and $10.24 million for the retail industry (a 38 percent increase in 2 years).

To download the Cost of Insider Threats 2020 Global Report, please visit: For more information on insider threat management, please visit:

About Proofpoint, Inc.

Proofpoint, Inc. (NASDAQ: PFPT) is a leading cybersecurity company that protects organisations’ greatest assets and biggest risks: their people. With an integrated suite of cloud-based solutions, Proofpoint helps companies around the world stop targeted threats, safeguard their data, and make their users more resilient against cyber attacks. Leading organisations of all sizes, including more than half of the Fortune 1000, rely on Proofpoint’s people-centric security and compliance solutions to mitigate their most critical risks across email, the cloud, social media, and the web. More information is available at

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