In recent years, the frequency of data breaches has increased at an alarming rate, as attackers keep finding new paths to penetrate networks and steal sensitive data. From the year 2011, cyber crimes have only heightened, with big industries like Adobe, Sony, Evernote, eBay, etc. compromised. While on one hand the data security breach bombardment continues, investments are drawing into security technologies on the other hand– and it is clearly not enough.
All organizations, whether big or small, are at a risk of information security breach. While it is a wretched ordeal, learning how to manage a data breach can make it much simpler and easier to control the damage.
Managing a Corporate Data Security Breach
- Perform internal audit
A company won’t know the adequacy of its defences, if it does not regularly verify that those defences are uncompromised, sound, and applied in a timely manner. Irrespective of how strong a company’s data security policies and controls are, internal audits play an important role in information security. A company has three line of data security — Management, Risk Management and Compliance, and Objective Reassurance. Internal auditing function provides objective assurance to the executive management on how effectively the organization assesses its risks.
If a weakness is found after auditing each control, it changes the relevant business or IT management to rectify it. When the rectification is more involved, experts and professionals get to the root of the insufficiency and instruct their employees accordingly. It ensures that information security threats are thoroughly considered and becomes especially important when a company is ready to roll out a new business product or process.
Educate, and empower your team to make imperative decisions
Despite all the attention around information security, the risk of breaches is only likely to get worse, perhaps much worse. And since these issues revolve around sensitive information at risk, the security breach response team ought to have a healthy mix of technologists and decision makers. In case of a typical cyber attack, a lot of precious time is lost in responding to the breach, as the right person to deal with it isn’t available to approve the required action. Organizations should educate and empower their employees to make necessary decisions — sometimes the online intrusions generate only insults, and not injuries.
Identify and perform a root cause analysis on any data that may have been breached
After a cyber attack, breach investigations should not end at “lessons learned”, but should be dug deep to find the real cause of failure in controls. More often than not, corporates are more willing to spend time and money to get things right, and hence the investigation should diagnose and pinpoint the root causes and suggest a phased approach to acknowledge those root causes. Once the mitigation plan is thoroughly developed, it is important to record, track and make sure that the changes are implemented consistently.
Data breaches can be highly detrimental to any organization’s reputation, and it is vital that companies have strong policies in place. If an unlikely incident occurs, the key staff ought to know their responsibilities and roles to act promptly.
- Review and scale security policy agreements
At least 50 countries have enacted data privacy laws, and more are expected to follow.
Of these countries, many companies and organizations swear by having a good set of security policies but fail in implementing them. When a company is hit by a breach and are found unable to comply with the policies; that company will be tagged as ‘negligent’ in terms of responsibilities. Penalties and reputational damages follow, if a company fails to be in sync with the security policy agreements. Hence; it is very important to measure and carry out procedures, standards, and statistics required for a company.
Reporting a Corporate Data Security Breach
Regulators have fined several companies for not reporting or communicating about breaches promptly at the right time. Several others that were fast enough to come out in public were later embarrassed when subsequent investigations found the extent and capacity of those breaches to be much bigger than originally reported. Even though regulators and customers tend to be more forgiving of the companies that come forward and report violations quickly, corporates should make sure that they have verified all the facts before announcing about the breach in public.
It’s necessary for an organization to involve legal experts directly and understand the requirement restraints before commencing a response. For example, in the U.S., the data breach laws dictate how an enterprise should recognize, report and respond to a security breach, but it differs in each state. In other parts of the world, organizations do not require to acknowledge a breach publicly, but they might still have evidence-compilation and forensics necessities to inspect.
Under the UK Data Protection Act, companies are not legally required to report breaches. However, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have the authority to impose fines if corporates are found out of tune with the risk related obligations.
As such, the reporting of data security breaches differs from country to country. Where deemed severe, especially the accidental loss of, and unauthorized processing of data; you will be required to report a security breach.