How to Handle a Data Breach?
Simple Guidelines for an Effective Data Breach Response
We live in times where data breaches are a widespread occurrence among all types and sizes of businesses. As per a study by Teramind, approximately 19,280 data records are stolen or lost every 5 minutes. This number goes up to 231,000 data records for every one hour.
Whether it is 50 records or 500,000, customer information, financial information, or business data, if a breach occurs, your business is legally obliged to inform affected parties, as well as relevant regulatory bodies about the incident. This applies irrespective of the volume and sensitivity of the lost data. Any misstep during the post-breach period could have far reaching consequences, including a complete failure and collapse of your company.
Are you familiar with the steps you need to take following a breach? Read on to know how to effectively handle a data breach response.
Key Aspects of Managing a Data Breach
The strength of your cybersecurity systems is only as good as the layered technological protection you have invested in, and the awareness and sensitization within your staff to make smart choices. However, once a breach takes place, the most effective way of managing the incident is through a formal data breach response plan. A well-prepared plan lists down all the necessary steps, along with the personnel or teams responsible for each of them. This could help minimize the internal chaos and negative publicity that follows a breach.
Here are the key aspects that your plan should include:
- Stop the Breach: Once a breach occurs, time is of the essence. The only thing worse than facing a data breach is allowing the same incident to recur. Whether it is a professional hack, insider theft, or user, negligence, no matter why the breach occurred, once you have identified the source, start isolating the systems or networks affected by the incident. Depending on the nature of the attack, you may have to reformat affected assets, blacklist the attack’s originating IP address, or carry out other necessary steps to contain the damage.
- Assess the Damage: Once the containment process is complete and you are certain that there is no immediate lingering threat to the rest of your systems and information, start investigating the breach. It is important to know how and why the breach took place, in order to strengthen your processes and prevent a recurrence.
- Notify the Impacted Parties: Your investigations will reveal the extent of the breach, as well as the details of the impacted parties. Inform the affected individuals and entities, as well as your relevant regulatory bodies about the breach within the specified time frame, in order to avoid hefty fines. Keeping your communication honest and transparent will help in maintaining the integrity of your business, and combating the backlash that almost always accompanies any breach.
- Conduct a Security Audit: Once you have completed all your legal obligations, assess your current systems, identify the weak spots, and invest in new policies and tools to strengthen your data breach protocols.
- Update Your Data Breach Recovery Plan: Bracing for future attacks is a continuous process. Your security audit and internal investigations can also offer valuable inputs for updating your future data recovery plans.
- Fix your vulnerable processes and systems by
- Enforcing a strong password policy
- Limiting access and download facilities
- Patching system vulnerabilities
- Adding stronger encryption for data and devices
- Creating robust data monitoring and data leakage prevention processes
- Re-educate and re-sensitize your employees on their roles and responsibilities before, during and after a potential data breach.
- Reiterate the importance of shredding physical documents and destroying old hard drives or digital media devices.
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