What to Do in the Event of a Data Breach?

What to Do in the Event of a Data Breach?


Your company and customer data are critically important and must be protected on a system with high levels of security; unfortunately, a data breach can occur even with a secure system.

What is a Data Breach?

A data breach means breaking the security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, or unauthorised access to personal data. If an individual accesses the data or passes it on without authorisation or if the data is made unavailable and has a significant negative effect on individuals, this is the result of a data breach.

A personal data breach can include:

  • Access by an unauthorised third party.
  • Deliberate or accidental action by an individual with access.
  • An internal IT error or processor mistake.
  • Sending personal data to an incorrect recipient: e.g. via email.
  • Computing devices being lost or stolen.

Actions to take immediately upon realising data has been breached:

  • Put in place a process to assess the likely risk to individuals – as a result of a breach.
  • Inform affected individuals about a breach when their rights and freedoms are at high risk.
  • Contact the relevant supervisory authority for our processing activities.
  • Notify the ICO within 72 hours of becoming aware of a breach, even if you do not have all the details yet.
  • Be aware of all information you must give the ICO about a breach.
  • Know what information about a breach we must provide to individuals and that you should provide advice to help them protect themselves from its effects.
  • All breaches must be documented internally, even if they do not all need to be reported.

What is the ICO?

The ICO (Information Commissioners Office) regulates data protection in the UK. They offer advice and guidance, promote good practice, monitor breach reports, conduct audits and advisory visits, consider complaints, monitor compliance and take enforcement action where appropriate.

Tips to prevent a future Data Breach:

  • Use strong passwords and a password manager: the most common cause of data breaches is weak passwords, which enable attackers to steal credentials and give them access to all networks and information.
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA): due to the inherent weakness of passwords, users and companies should never rely on passwords alone.
  • Keep software up to date: always use the latest version of a software system to prevent potential vulnerability exploits.
  • Use secure URLs: users should only open Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) or open web addresses that are secure.
  • Educate and train employees: educate your employees on the risks they face online and advise them on the common types of cyberattacks and how to spot a potential threat.
  • Create a response plan: businesses must implement a contiguous plan in case the worst should occur.

Date: May 2, 2023

Author: Morris

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