Data breaches can be devastating for companies. Statistics show there is a 30% chance of Australian businesses experiencing a data breach, with an average cost of $3.35 million per breach. This includes costs of regulatory investigations, business disruption, and loss of consumer or stakeholder trust.
With those sorts of consequences, your business can’t afford to be unprepared to manage a data breach. Businesses need to have a data breach management plan in place to limit the impact of a data breach and its aftermath.
What is a data breach?
Simply put, a data breach is when someone breaks into a computer system or network and gains access to data or sensitive information without authorisation. Some data breaches are small and only affect one person or company, while others are large and can affect thousands of people and multiple businesses.
The most common type of data breach is a malicious actor hacking into a company’s network and information is accessed to be used for profit. This information can be email addresses, customer data, intellectual property, or financial information. There is also a risk of a data breach happening if an employee accidentally exposes that information on the internet, bypassing whatever information security systems are in place.
4 steps to managing a data breach
It is imperative to act as soon as a data leak has been suspected or detected. Always know what data you have and where it is located. This can help to determine which breaches pose the greatest risk and how to respond if a breach occurs.
1. Action your data breach response plan
You should already have a well-executed incident response plan prepared that fits your organization’s size and risk profile, and your employees trained to deal with data breach situations. A robust data breach response plan is critical to minimising the impact on the company’s reputation while reducing fines, decreasing negative press coverage, and getting your business back to normal as quickly as possible.
It is important to develop a plan that will work for your organisation, which may include having multiple plans depending on the type of breach (i.e., theft of information, malware) or how likely it is that an attack will occur (i.e., third-party network). It is also important for the plan to be regularly updated based on new technology, threats, and other factors that may affect your business or industry in general.
You should also be prepared to respond quickly, have a dedicated team ready to respond immediately, and ensure they are aware of their roles and responsibilities in the event of a data breach. When an alert is raised that a breach has occurred or is in the process of happening, the incident response team should be notified and initiate the response plan. This plan informs actions to take when a breach occurs. The team should document at all stages what they are doing so if your company needs to report, it can refer back to this data collected during the analysis of any breaches.
2. Contain the data breach
Containment is essential to stop the progression of a data breach. Containing the leak means doing whatever it takes to prevent new leaks from spreading. Methods for stopping will vary depending on what type of attack has occurred, but containment can be achieved by isolating vulnerable systems and preventing any new occurrences before they reach other parts of your IT environment. Fixing the breach at this stage is tempting, but it is important to maintain evidence of the breach for forensic investigators and legal counsel.
3. Communicate with customers and employees
It is important to communicate with customers, employees, and company stakeholders about any data breach that has occurred so they know what happened and how it will affect them. This is especially important if the breach affects sensitive customer or employee information, such as credit card details or health information because this can cause significant harm if it gets into the wrong hands.
4. Report the breach
The Australian Federal Government requires organisations or agencies covered by the Privacy Act 1988 who have experienced an eligible data breach to notify both individuals affected and report the event to authorities under the NDB Scheme (Notifiable Data Breach Scheme). To delay or neglect reporting eligible data breaches can result in significant and severe penalties.
Prevent data breaches in the future
Of course, the most vital thing you can do to protect your organisation’s business data is to prevent data breaches by ensuring your IT environment, including cloud-based services, are secure. These measures include controlling and monitoring access to networks and devices, protecting against ransomware and cyber-attacks, remote data backup, and enforcing strong cybersecurity measures across your organisation.
To ensure your business is secure against data breaches, get in touch with the IT security experts at Itopia today and be prepared to keep your people and IT systems safe.