As data breaches become headline news, the question arises of who will take the blame for the breach. All employees get put on the chopping block for costly breaches, but North American firms primarily remove C-level leaders in the aftermath, according to new security research from Kaspersky Lab.

According to a press release, the study was built on 5,878 interviews with businesses of varying sizes from 29 countries around the world. Taking global breaches into account, 31% have led to employees losing their jobs. However, in North America, 32% of breaches led to a C-level leader, manager, or president losing their job, the report said.

The layoffs weren’t just directed toward IT employees. In 29% of SMBs and 27% of large enterprises, senior, non-IT employees were laid off as well, the report noted.

SEE: Information security incident reporting policy (Tech Pro Research)

Worldwide, roughly 42% of businesses had to deal with a breach last year, according to the report. And they’re pricey, too–$1.23 million on average.

Some of that money went to customer compensation. According to the report, 45% of SMBs and 47% of enterprises were on the hook for financial compensation following a breach. Additionally, 27% of SMBs and of 31% of enterprises have paid penalties and fines following a data breach as well.

In terms of the type of data affected, personally identifiable information (PII) was involved in 41% of the SMB cases and 40% of those in the enterprise. The report also mentioned that 35% of SMBs had trouble finding new customers as a result of the breach, and 38% of enterprises encountered the same problem.

“While a data breach is devastating to a business as a whole, it can also have a very personal impact on people’s lives — whether they are customers or failed employees – so this is a reminder that cybersecurity has real-life implications and is in fact everyone’s concern,” Dmitry Aleshin, vice president of product marketing at Kaspersky Lab, said in the release. “With data now traveling on devices and via the cloud, and with regulations like GDPR becoming enforceable, it’s vital that businesses pay even closer attention to their data protection strategies.”

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • 31% of global data breaches led to employees getting laid off from their jobs. — Kaspersky Lab, 2018
  • 42% of businesses had to deal with a data breach last year, and they cost $1.23 million on average. — Kaspersky Lab, 2018