August 03, 2022

The Power of Preparation: Data Protection and Incident Response Plans

As businesses continue to adopt hybrid working models, allowing workers to access sensitive paper and digital data at home, organizations are vulnerable to the threat of data breaches. In fact, Shred-it’s 2021 Data Protection Report found that 49% of the large businesses and 50% of the small businesses surveyed have experienced a data breach—the highest rates in the history of the report.

Businesses of all sizes, from small businesses to the largest enterprises, are at risk of a data breach. T-Mobile, for example, experienced a data breach in April 2021—their seventh in the past four years. To fight new and worsening data security threats, companies of all sizes should invest in strategies that help provide the best possible protection for both physical and digital information.

However, even when organizations have strong data protection measures in place, data breaches can still occur. If a company experiences a data breach, leaders should be prepared to mitigate its impact and communicate the situation to employees, customers, government leaders, and other stakeholders. Incident response plans can help ensure that staff can calmly, effectively, and appropriately respond to a data security situation.

An incident response plan is a documented, written plan for IT (Information Technology) professionals and staff, detailing procedures to detect, respond to, and limit the consequences of a malicious cyber-attack. These plans are designed to save time and reduce staff stress should a data breach occur, as it keeps all personnel aware of their assigned duties. Furthermore, without intentional plans and clearly designated tasks, companies can risk worsening the data breach incident, potentially damaging their reputations and their budgets.

Data protection education is an important component to creating an effective incident response plan. To help businesses better prepare for information security incidents, Shred-it has answered some frequently asked questions about data breaches.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Data Breach?

A data breach is a security or privacy event in which personally identifiable information or other sensitive, confidential, or otherwise protected data has been accessed and/or disclosed by an unauthorized actor. Depending on the information involved in the breach and the company location, the company may be required by law to notify stakeholders of the breach.

What Are the Key Elements of an Incident Response Plan?

  • An incident response plan should include the following components:
  • A list of roles and responsibilities for the response team members.
  • A business continuity plan detailing how the organization will maintain its essential functions.
  • Tools, technologies, and any physical resources needed to execute the plan.
  • Processes to recover network and data.
  • Internal and external communications templates.

How Can Businesses Prevent a Data Breach?

Education and planning are good ways to help prevent data breaches. Businesses should run regular data security tests to understand gaps in their prevention efforts. If a breach does occur, it is important that all personnel have access to and understand the incident response plan. According to National Institute of Standards and Technology  an incident response plan should include:  

  • Mission
  • Strategies and goals
  • Senior management approval
  • Organizational approach to incident response
  • How the incident response team will communicate with the rest of the organization and with other organizations
  • Metrics for measuring the incident response capability and its effectiveness
  • Roadmap for maturing the incident response capability
  • How the program fits into the overall organization

All organizations, no matter the size or structure, should consider having an effective incident response plan in place to mitigate threats and help maintain trust with stakeholders. With effective preparation and education, businesses can be ready to respond to data breach incidents.

Learn how Shred-it can help companies prevent and prepare for data breach incidents.