How To Develop a Data Breach Recovery Plan

Developing a data breach protection plan

More than ever before, your company needs a data breach recovery plan to protect sensitive data and to protect your reputation in your industry. Whether you have proprietary company processes and goals or want to protect employee and personal information, you want to protect yourself from data breaches. Even more importantly, you must have a data breach response plan so that your company can close the breach, limit the damage, and re-secure your most vital information.

What is a Data Breach?

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Let’s start by explaining a data breach. These occur when unauthorized individuals access sensitive or confidential information held by your organization. This information can include healthcare data, Social Security Numbers, bank account information, corporate data, financial records, personal data, intellectual property, or customer data records. 

You may hear the term cyber attack being used interchangeably with the data breach. However, it’s important to know that not everything that is a cyber attack is a data breach, and not every data breach is a cyber attack. A data breach is a case where data confidentiality has been compromised due to a security breach. 

One example of a cyber attack that isn’t also a data breach is a DDoS (distributed denial of service attack). These attacks overwhelm your website with requests, slowing or stopping access to your website entirely. However, DDoS does not, by default, result in information being compromised; thus, they are not data breaches. If someone were to steal paper files, hard drives, thumb drives, or other items containing sensitive or confidential information, this would be a data breach that is not a cyber attack.

Developing a data breach recovery plan is important to protect your business from these cybersecurity incidents.

What Is Included In A Data Breach Recovery Plan?

A data breach response plan outlines the roles and responsibilities of staff members during a data breach and creates a framework for handling it. It helps ensure that your organization quickly and efficiently seals the breach and prevents data from becoming further compromised. Your data breach response plan should be provided in writing to each staff member so they know how to respond to a data security incident appropriately. There should also be a copy of the data breach response plan displayed prominently within your facility or made available via electronic documents if your team works remotely or you operate in a hybrid office.

When deciding what to include in your data breach response plan, you should aim to be as comprehensive as possible. The more thorough and carefully thought out your plan is, the more effectively you can limit the risks and the extent of the damage the data security breach can cause.

Make sure you have a comprehensive plan by including the following:

  • A precise definition of what a data breach is—This will help reduce confusion when determining whether something counts as a data breach. Examples specific to your industry should be included to ensure your staff easily understands them.
  • Steps For Containing, Managing, and Assessing Breach Severity—These should outline the actions required of your staff and your designated response team when a data security breach impacts your organization.
  • Potential Approaches For Handling a Data Breach—Your plan should be built to ensure your organization can implement it when necessary. This means ensuring sufficient staff to respond to the breach who are trained to assess the impact of the data breach.
  • Impacted Party Notification Plan—Those impacted by the breach should be notified immediately and provided with clear information about the event and the risk that is posed. An effective party notification plan will ensure this happens quickly and efficiently. 
  • Party Responsible For Enacting The Party Notification Plan – Ensuring that the individuals responsible for each step are clearly outlined ensures that no step of the response plan is overlooked. You may want different staff members to handle customers, sister businesses, and stockholders to ensure the correct approach is taken.
  • Staff Roles and Responsibilities—Your team should know who to inform if they suspect a data breach. Sometimes, a line manager may be sufficient to address a suspected breach, while more severe cases may have to be sent to your designated response team. The response team should be involved when many entities may have been impacted, the risk of serious harm to those affected is high, or you suspect an internal system problem caused the data to become compromised. Other factors may determine the response team should be contacted based on the specifics and needs of your company.
  • Documentation Procedures—Every data breach incident should be thoroughly recorded, even when the response team is unnecessary. This will help you track these events, identify potential causes, and track the impact of security changes you’ve made in response to them. Most importantly, it can demonstrate that your company complies with any regulations governing compromised data.

Once you’ve completed a data breach recovery plan, you must update it regularly and ensure your staff knows the latest rendition. Testing your plan by discussing hypothetical data breaches can help review vulnerabilities or inefficiencies in the plan you can use to help make it more effective. The frequency with which you test your plan should be based on your organization’s size, the potential consequences of a data breach, the nature of your business, and how much confidential or sensitive information you handle.

Any time a data breach occurs, the final step should be a thorough review. This step helps you improve data breach management procedures and update how you handle data. Further, you can determine the effectiveness of your current data breach recovery plan and identify any weak points that may have helped the breach occur. 

Regularly updating your data breach recovery plan ensures it remains effective and relevant. Many organizations update their security plan when introducing system upgrades, providing new services, adding products to their catalog, or other significant events that may require the review of their cybersecurity and physical security processes. 

What Roles Should I Include In My Data Breach Response Team?

A data breach response team aims to respond quickly to security incidents to perform damage control and limit the impact of the data breach. Achieving this requires having a response team that understands the nature of data breaches, and what steps they must take to limit the overall damage caused by security incidents. This team must be fully established before any possible breach to ensure they can respond efficiently to address it. One element of achieving this goal is a clearly defined set of roles and responsibilities that outlines what each should do in the event of a data breach.

data breach prevention plan

When establishing a data breach response team, the most important thing you can do is select the right members. This means finding individuals with different skill sets relevant to handling a data breach. This may involve some expert members from outside your organization, a legal consultant, media management experts, data forensics specialists, and more. Your response team membership should be comprehensive, as you may not need the same skills for every data breach and thus may only need select members of the list.

Your response team’s defined roles, responsibilities, contact information, and authority should be included. This information should be updated regularly, especially if your organization undergoes significant changes. Ideally, each team member will have a backup if one or more members are unavailable.

Common Roles Within A Response Team

  • Response Team LeadThe individual responsible for directing the response team and reporting to upper management.
  • Project Manager — Handles team coordination and support for those handling a breach.
  • Key Privacy Officer — The lead privacy advisor for the team, handling all privacy-related concerns.
  • Legal Counsel — Advises the team regarding legal obligations and procedures.
  • Risk Management Officer — Responsible for determining potential risk levels from the breach.
  • Communication Technology Forensic Support – Responsible for determining the extent of the breach and the potential underlying cause.
  • Records Management Specialist — Handles security reviews and monitoring controls involved in the breach, including authentication, audit logs, encryption, access, and more. They will provide advice on documenting the data breach response.
  • Human Resources Support — Will handle instances where the breach resulted from staff actions.
  • Media Expert —In charge of communicating with impacted individuals, managing media contacts, and communicating with external stakeholders.

If you have an insurance policy that covers data breaches, your insurance provider may connect you with external service providers who can fill many of the above roles. It’s important to coordinate with your insurer to get information about these panel members so they can be included in your response team. Your insurer may also provide a hotline for contacting you when a data breach occurs. This number should be included in your data recovery response plan.

Those responsible for carrying out the roles included in your response team can vary depending on the specific circumstances. Smaller organizations may skip certain steps involving escalation to the response team as it may be the default process. Larger organizations may have multiple individuals covering each role, while smaller ones may have one individual covering multiple roles. These smaller organizations may also have the owner directly involved with managing any data breach.

You must ensure that your response team is authorized to perform the duties outlined for them in the response plan. Needing to obtain authorization will slow their response time and increase the potential damages the breach can cause due to the delay. It’s also important that your team leader has the skills and experience necessary to manage their team and report to senior management effectively. 

Why Is It Necessary to Build A Data Breach Recovery Plan?

Every organization should have a plan to respond to a data breach. This plan allows them to provide an agile response to any security incident. Rapidly responding mitigates the level of impact experienced by those who are affected, limits potential financial consequences, and prevents any potential damage to the organization’s reputation.

Your data breach recovery plan helps you:

  • Meet Your Legal Privacy Obligations—Privacy laws require rapid notification of those impacted by the data breach, typically within 72 hours. Having a data breach recovery plan ensures you won’t violate these laws.
  • Reduce Overall Consequences—The faster a data breach is responded to, the more opportunity you have to reduce the number of individuals impacted. This helps to protect customers’ personal data and prevent identity theft and company data, reduce fiscal losses, and limit damage to your organization’s reputation.
  • Maintain Public Trust—Effectively responding to a data breach helps boost public opinion of your organization. It shows that you respect individual privacy, are competent in managing sensitive and confidential information, and strive to meet your community’s expectations.

Contact Record Nations Today!

Creating these plans is important in guaranteeing your company’s success and security. It pays to work closely with a team of experts with the experience and resources to help you properly outline your data breach recovery plan. If you’re ready to ensure your staff can quickly and effectively respond to your next data breach, contact Record Nations at (866) 385-3706, fill out the form, or or contact us directly using our live chat today! We can gather quotes on services to help your organization, including document and data management services, storage services, and more.

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