Close this search box.
Close this search box.

These are the Top 10 Worst Foreign Countries in which to Suffer a Data Breach

South Korea has the toughest regime, though you could face six months in prison in Japan or a $11.6 million fine in Germany.

As if the direct costs and reputational damage of suffering a cyberattack weren’t enough, governments in various countries also mete out punishment for breaches of customer privacy.

Of course, it’s the hackers who are ultimately responsible for cybercrimes. But governments often hold companies up to high compliance standards that can put their executives in hot water should customer data be stolen.

And some countries enforce much stricter regimes than others, challenging CEOs of multinational companies to adapt internal protocols to cover all their bases.

South Korea has the harshest settings, according to Bloomberg Law, which has just listed the top 10 countries with the highest data breach notification compliance risk.


“While news coverage has made privacy a topic of intense interest in the U.S., understanding the international regulatory environment is no less important to U.S. companies doing business abroad,” the report’s authors said.

Businesses operating in South Korea face a very high compliance burden and intense level of law enforcement. They can face potential criminal fines of $700,000, civil fines of $26,500 and even criminal imprisonment. All together, the country was given an index score of 83 out of a 100 by Bloomberg Law, a very high negative score.

In 2014, dozens of top executives at Korean financial firms including KB Financial Group resigned after hackers stole millions of customer credit card details. A local karaoke chain, K Box, was even fined around $50,000 last year for failing to protect financial data.

“The privacy law regime of South Korea is very complicated and detailed and has been subject to frequent change in recent years. Privacy laws overall have been strictly enforced by regulatory authorities, particularly law enforcement authorities,” the report said.

Tied for second on the list were Columbia and Mexico, while France took out fourth and Japan fifth.

French authorities are especially active in pursuing companies that experience breaches and can impose civil fines of just over $3 million, though the highest fine imposed there last year was €100,000 against Google. Individuals found not following rules in Japan, meanwhile, can face six months imprisonment.

Rounding out the top 10 in descending order were Spain, the Philippines, Belgium, Germany and Hungary.

The regulatory burdens in Germany and Hungary are lighter than the other eight countries in the top 10; though, at up to $11.6 million, Germany had the biggest potential criminal fines.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.