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The Secret to Effective Data Breach Management

/ by ShoreGroup

The Secret to Effective Data Breach Management ShoreGroup

Data breaches can cost a business twice - first in harm to its reputation and second in costs spent on remediation. Clients and customers can lose faith in an organization’s ability to secure confidential information, and it can take time and money spent on outreach, public relations, and even system redesigns to repair the damage.

On top of this, data breaches can invite increased government oversight and other regulatory trouble. In the worse case, customers or clients may band together and file lawsuits. Many of these risks can be minimized with effective planning.

Preventing data breaches should be a key priority for any business. Nevertheless, breaches happen unexpectedly and comprehensive plans must be in place to deal with their eventuality. While Chief Information Security Officers play a pivotal role in coordinating data security policies and managing IT risk, they must also work with stakeholders throughout the organization to ensure an enterprise-wide strategy. The secret to data breach management is a collaborative, cross-functional approach. Here’s how to get there:

Create a Data Breach Management Strategy that Promotes Both Prevention and Fast Breach Reporting throughout the Enterprise

Data breach management begins with understanding potential security risks and working with stakeholders across the enterprise to development comprehensive prevention and response plans. Although protecting against data breaches and remediating them may seem like different concerns, they actually go hand-in-hand.

As part of the prevention process, an organization should identify which data is confidential and who has access to it. This data map can become a blueprint for both prevention and remediation. It can help make it easier to identify possible breach points, like network vulnerabilities or third-party vendors with lax security policies.

Business leaders should have clear sense of where data flows within the organization in order to develop security safeguards. This process must involve all departments that come in contact with sensitive information to ensure that risk-mitigating procedures are followed. Collaboration is key. Employees in relevant departments should understand best practices to keep data secure (e.g., not leaving laptops unattended in public spaces, always using a VPN on public networks) and IT should ensure all data can be tracked in order to identify possible breaches.

Reporting is another key part of the process. Everyone throughout the organization must be empowered to report a potential data breach. Such information must be transmitted to breach response team leaders as quickly as possible. As part of the planning process, it’s important to break down any institutional, hierarchical, or cultural barriers that may prevent this from happening.

Develop a Data Breach Response Team and Empower Them to Act

After ensuring you have a clear picture of all secure data and possible points of compromise, the next step is to work with areas like finance, legal, public relations, and customer care to map out responsibilities in the event of a data breach. Executives, including the CEO and CFO, should be engaged as part of this process in order to ensure that the necessary resources are allocated to data breach management.

Together, all these departments should have representatives on a data breach management team. The corresponding breach management plan should include clear lines of reporting and checklists for each relevant department. Time is of the essence following a breach and everyone must know what to do; there’s no time for back and forth or diffusion of responsibility. To further ensure appropriate leadership, the CISO or similar security official should be the leader of the response team, since they are most familiar with both data beaches and the necessary response plan. Designating a leader helps prevent inaction.

As part of this planning process, the data breach response team leader should work with legal and finance to determine what relevant regulatory concerns might be related to a data breach. Certain types of businesses, especially those in health care and banking, should make sure to follow mandated reporting timelines to avoid lawsuits and regulatory fines. These considerations should be baked into any plan.

Enable A Coordinated Response

A cross-functional, holistic approach to potential breaches entails a coordinated strategy for both prevention and remediation.  IT’s responsibilities includes actions like recording when the breach was discovered, alerting other key teams to initiate a response, determining the cause of the breach, and stopping any additional data loss. Designated breach response team members in the finance and legal departments should begin assessing potential liabilities and drafting up a timeline for any response to regulators, customers, and the media. The legal team should also consult with the executive team to determine if law enforcement should be notified. Additionally, public relations officials should be activated to carry out the planned strategy for responding to a breach.  

Remember the secret to data breach management: unify your entire organization around breach prevention and management. It’s essential to involve every part of the business in the planning process to ensure they understand their role in both protecting confidential data and responding in the event it’s exposed. Businesses cannot afford to be caught unprepared by failing to engage stakeholders across the organization.

Need help developing a data breach incident response plan? Contact Shoregroup today.

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