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Data breach response plans and why you need them

No organization is immune to data breaches, regardless of size or industry. Even the most effective cybersecurity solutions such as endpoint management, multi-factor authentication, and cybersecurity awareness training can be defeated if cybercriminals are highly skilled and motivated. 

The average time to identify a breach takes 287 days and the average cost of a breach with a lifecycle over 200 days is $4.87 million. Containing a breach as soon as it happens can determine whether it will be a tiny glitch or a catastrophic loss for a business. 

Having a data breach response plan in place is crucial to reducing and containing a breach's impact, as well as positioning your business for the future. 

What is a data breach response plan?

An organization's data breach response plan details the procedures for dealing with a data breach. It defines what constitutes a cybersecurity or information security incident, who is involved in the plan and their contact information, and what steps to take in the event of a breach. Following up on incidents is also addressed as well as data breach recovery. 

The length and depth of your company's recovery depend on how swiftly it reacts to the security breach. Handling the incident in a professional and dispassionate manner demonstrates to clients and regulatory bodies that you can survive without suffering a severe blow to your operation.

Why is a data breach response plan important?

Having a plan in place can help you respond to an incident more efficiently and avoid serious consequences for your company. A data breach response plan in place before a breach occurs can also help you determine the cause of the breach, which can be useful for learning how to avoid future cyberattacks as well as aiding the recovery plan and time it takes to get businesses back up and running. 

Regulations

Data breach notification regulations require individuals or organizations that experience a data breach, data loss, or other data security issues to disclose the breach to their customers as well as take specific measures to resolve the issue, depending on the jurisdiction's legislation. 

Healthcare information, financial institution information, telecom usage information held by telecommunication providers and government agency information that has been breached are all subject to federal notification requirements.

Costs

As mentioned above, the average cost of a data breach is almost $4.9 million, and identifying and containing the breach in under 200 days can lower costs by up to $1.12 million when compared to breaches taking longer to resolve. Obviously, a well-designed plan set in motion is always more cost-effective than hoping for the best when a breach does happen. 

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Preparing a data breach response plan

Review risks and vulnerabilities

Prior to composing the plan, conduct a risk and vulnerability assessment and define what constitutes a breach, including what might be impacted--data, people, programs, and systems--and prospective cyberattack scenarios, such as ransomware, phishing, insider attacks, and credential theft. The data breach response plan will be the starting point for identifying and containing the breach, so it is important to plan for all cyber events that could potentially affect your organization. 

Establish the response team

Identify the people on the data breach response team, as well as their duties and contact information. In addition to the executive team, representatives from IT, human resources, business partners, legal, marketing, and communications should be included. 

Implement tools, services, and policies

Policies, actions, and tools can be put in place to detect and contain a data breach event while minimizing overall exposure in the first place, such as:

Communication 

Prepared statements for customers, staff, and the media should be part of a communications strategy in the event of a data breach. The timing and method of these statements should be determined. This strategy should be flexible based on the severity of the breach. 

Store the response plan off the main computer network in case it gets encrypted by ransomware. You won't be able to access the document if the network is encrypted. Ensure that every response team member has a hard copy as well as a method to communicate with other team members outside of internal email or messaging systems. 

Define incident response workflows

This includes identification, containment, and mitigation of the data breach:

  • Keep detailed log of all activities for forensic investigation
  • Initiate incident containment and mitigation process
  • Activate data backup and recovery procedures
  • Inform any necessary parties, including affected customers, employees, legal counsel, regulatory authorities, and media
  • Follow data security procedures once the breach is contained
  • Undertake analysis to discover origins of breach
  • Assess and mitigate any vulnerabilities that could lead to future incidents

Evaluate data recovery response plan

After a data breach response plan has been activated and the threat has been resolved, it is important to evaluate the breach response plan and make any improvements or amendments. 

Data breach prevention with the experts

The common thread among businesses that have recovered from a major data breach is that they all prepared and rehearsed their response strategies. They communicated well with employees, clients, and regulatory bodies at the important stages of the process, provided information to customers on what happened, and described how they minimized the consequences of the breach. 

To ensure your business is doing everything it can to reduce the risk of a data breach, you need robust and comprehensive cybersecurity solutions. The ThreatAdvice Breach Prevention Platform combines ongoing risk assessment and vulnerability management with security awareness training and cybersecurity oversight, to ensure your business is taking all precautionary measures to prevent a breach. Talk to the ThreatAdvice experts today and reduce the risk of a data breach today.

ThreatAdvice Breach Prevention Platform