What should you do in the event of a data loss?

Opinion by Edy Almer

Edy Almer, vice president of product marketing at Safend, looks at the best practices that businesses should be following to ensure the protection of data.

Edy Almer, vice president of product marketing at Safend, looks at the best practices that businesses should be following to ensure the protection of data.

Once you have established that a data breach has occurred you should do the following.

Prevention is always the best route to avoiding loss of data, however developing a full-proof incident response strategy is also essential to minimise the possible effect of a data breach.  A proper and timely response will help to reduce the impact on customers and your business.

First and foremost, change your network password and report the theft to the authorities and inform all relevant departments. If the worst should happen and a breach occurs, you should have a designated team ready to take charge. Senior members from across departments including IT, compliance, public relations and legal should make up this team, as well as executive management.

The response to such an incident can make all the difference to reputational damage, customer relations, shareholder value and recovery time. Take an active approach to protecting your affected customers and reassuring and informing them in a timely, thorough and clear manner. Whilst this preserves your brand reputation, it will also help to meet compliance standards.

Document all relevant details. All information and evidence regarding the time leading up to, during and after the incident must be accurately recorded in order to help you comply with the changing laws and regulations, such as the EU proposals to enforce stricter rules on data breach notification. Accurate records will also help to aid the investigation and prevent further incidents.

Reinforce breached data. This may differ depending on the nature of the attack and the individual organisation; however it is generally good practice to first determine the point of compromise and secure it, then manage other affected areas.

In a recent case, a USB stick containing data on police operations was stolen from an officer's home, which means that the police had to spend valuable time and money trying to track the criminal to reclaim the data and prevent leakage of vital information. Had the removable storage been encrypted the data would be unreadable and the USB rendered useless to the criminal.

Finally, prepare now for the EU data breach disclosure law. In a bid to harmonise and strengthen existing data breach notification rules, the European Commission is proposing implementing measures that will mean in the event of a data breach, businesses are legally required to inform the relevant authorities and all affected individuals.

The proposals will come into effect in the next four years, so in the meantime businesses should be proactive in tightening up all security measures and best practices from the top-level down.

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