Crisis Management: What to do During a Data Breach Incident

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In an ideal scenario, response efforts to a data breach would be handled discreetly without having to manage the situation or disclosing it at large. However, the rapid increase of high-profile data breach incidents is not showing any signs of reducing — especially with the new disclosure requirements for DPR and other legislations. If a data breach does take place, it requires crisis management, with the consultation of legal and communications counsel in determining the best way to go forward.
Cybersecurity crisis experts opine that there needs to be a consensus on the cross-disciplinary practice of a data breach response. Here is what can be done as part of a data breach management response:

Planning and preparation are vital

Besides laying an IT security budget to defend your data from hackers proactively, adequate planning, and preparing for a data breach incident response is just as crucial. Unfortunately, most organizations ignore this measure until it is too late. In almost every scenario, it is seen that a response team is gathered only after a data breach incident takes place. On the contrary, organizations must ensure that approval processes for issues such as public disclosures and decision-making moves be decided in advance in order to streamline the motion if an incident occurs.
In the planning stage, companies must involve cross-disciplinary teams to decide the right communications method with adequate roles and responsibilities. Simulations, training exercises, and tabletop sessions can help departments and team members recognize accurately how to play out their role in the event of a data breach. By creating incident simulations, employees will be able to understand how to respond effectively to an incident, by knowing in advance the potential areas of weaknesses and strengths with their employees, technologies, and processes. During this phase, the IT security leadership in the company must also assess the stacks of techniques and review the specific tools that must be used at every stage of a data breach response process. Besides, a comprehensive documentation process must also be instituted to assist the IT team and help them understand precisely what took place to avoid similar data breach incidents from taking place in the company.

Responding to a data breach

In the first few days of a data breach incident, an organization may be caught off guard and only notified by the media or employees, after the damage is done. In an ideal scenario, document security systems such as digital rights management (DRM) that can proactively recognize and prevent data breaches from taking place would avoid such a situation altogether. However, in the absence of a robust DRM technology, IT security teams must alert internal management and take steps to prevent further damage before it becomes public knowledge. Historically, in situations where companies have gathered an understanding of potential data breaches from outside the organization, they often hurry to make public disclosures before looking into whether it is actually needed — that could cause damage to their reputation.

Post-incident response

Post an incident, the active investigation must continue to proceed without making any postulates until there is proof of the root cause of a data breach. For instance, some data breaches that take place due to insider errors are typically due to employee mistakes, and hence a pre-emptive justification could be detrimental to the company. Rather, companies must be honest and share the facts as they become confident in their conclusions. A good deal of public data security incident response is about acquiring the trust of the media and the customers. It is imperative to focus on how to solve the situation and what can be done to resolve potential results.

What can be learned from this?

If organizations consider dedicated data security management solutions such as insider threat management, it can hasten the investigation procedure and offer relevant evidence on the movement of data and employee activity. This can be crucial in assisting security teams in rendering exact facts to compliance, communications, and legal departments accurately and promptly. A tool such as digital rights management captures what transpires with protected data when they are shared with permitted individuals. This can be crucial in understanding the chain of events all the way back to when the incident took place. This kind of forensic information is highly valuable in the entire process of data breach response.
If a data breach incident takes place and is confirmed, compliance and legal teams manage the timing and quantity of data to be disclosed to clients, regulators, and the masses. Besides, if needed, legal teams will cooperate with law enforcement agencies to ensure malicious insiders are booked. Security teams and organizations should provide digital forensics data to legal and compliance teams, as well as third-party research firms employed by the company, for relevant disclosures and legal decisions.

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