Here’s an inconvenient truth: even with all the recommended security measures and best practices, your organization can still become a victim of a security breach. Of course, not taking the proper precautions significantly increases your risk factor — and a considerable number of attacks are linked to negligence or poor security hygiene.
But regardless of whether your data breach was due to lax security or just bad luck, what you do in the wake of a successful attack can be just as crucial as the steps you take to prevent a security event in the first place.
But of all the steps you need to take after your data has been exposed, there’s one thing that’s non-negotiable and can benefit you in myriad ways.
The Most Important Thing to Do After a Data Breach
There are many steps companies must take after a breach, and they should happen concurrently.
For example, you need to identify the source and correct the problem, which often involves finding and patching a vulnerability. Many organizations have a team of IT security pros who are responsible for reacting to these emergencies. So, if you don’t already have a breach task force, you’ll want to create one as soon as possible.
You also need to notify the authorities, which may involve submitting to an investigation. And you must inform your customers about the extent of the damage and what you’re doing (or have already done) to fix it. By letting your clients know what information was leaked, they can take action to protect their personal data from further damage, such as changing their passwords, canceling credit cards, or, in some cases, freezing their credit. The sooner you alert your customer base, the better your chances of retaining their business.
But there’s one more thing and, in our opinion, it’s the most critical.
Organizations also have to prove, for compliance purposes, that they’re taking all the necessary precautions to prevent a future data breach. In other words, when the dust settles on the event, you have to show authorities and your customers that — beyond the shadow of a doubt — you’re actively working to mitigate risk and protect your valuable data. And while investing in a more robust antivirus software or firewall can be helpful, it isn’t always enough.
Understanding Regulation and Compliance
Data breach notification and correction requirements are complicated in the US and depend on a combination of federal and state laws. And if you conduct business across multiple states, it can get even more complex.
But there is some overlap. For example, per federal and state laws, you must report your breach as soon as you become aware of it, within a given timeline. Failing to do so can lead to fines and legal ramifications.
(Here is a helpful list of state data breach notification laws.)
In addition to broader federal and state laws, there are also industry-specific requirements. For example, HIPAA demands organizations inform federal authorities within 60 days of a breach when at least 500 individuals’ data is involved.
These federal, state, and industry-specific entities also have specific requirements for how you should proceed after a breach, and it’s important to familiarize yourself with these rules so you can act accordingly. But one thing you can and should do, for both compliance purposes and your brand image and reputation, is invest in actionable threat intelligence.
How Does Actionable Threat Intelligence Work?
Actionable threat intelligence is a solution that allows you to counteract threats in real-time through straightforward and efficient processes. For example, depending on the provider, it can scour the dark and deep web for your data and, if there’s a match, let you know immediately so you can take steps to prevent an account takeover. It can also help you democratize security across the workforce.
For example, HackNotice Teams is designed to help you catch potential leaks before hackers can access your accounts and provides educational resources to help employees bolster their security knowledge and habits. When everyone participates in promoting security and takes responsibility for their own errors, you substantially reduce your risk.
By showing you’re taking steps to educate your workforce and identify potential threats before they become breaches, you can help satisfy regulation and compliance requirements. But, you’ll also instill a sense of confidence in your client base by proving you’re doing everything within your power to ensure a data breach doesn’t happen again.