January 29, 2024

Data Breach Preparedness: Vital Measures for Businesses Amidst Risks

Businesses of all sizes and industries, from small enterprises to large companies, face the paramount challenge of safeguarding sensitive information, as they reduce their risk of a data breach. According to the most recent IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report, 233.9 million people have been affected by data breaches and leaks as of September 2023. Additionally, smaller organizations faced considerably higher data breach costs when compared to last year. It is estimated that organizations with fewer than 500 employees reported that the average impact of a data breach increased from USD 2.92 million to USD 3.31 million, marking a 13.4% rise.

These statistics underscore the frequent and concerning nature of data breaches. Therefore, businesses need to be prepared to face them and know how to respond when a breach occurs, as time is of the essence.

IBM's report also highlights the average cost difference between breaches that took more than 200 days to find and resolve and those that took less than 200 days. The time to identify and contain breaches—known as the breach lifecycle—continues to be integral to the overall financial impact. The report indicated that breaches identified and contained within 200 days cost organizations USD 3.93 million, whereas those extending beyond 200 days cost USD 4.95 million—a difference of 23%.

Having a comprehensive plan in place is vital to minimize the impact of a breach, enabling prompt breach detection and response.

How to Prepare? The Relevance of an Incident Response Plan

An incident response plan is a documented strategy tailored for IT professionals and staff, delineating procedures to detect, respond to, and mitigate the consequences of a malicious cyber-attack. These plans aim to save time and alleviate staff stress in the event of a data breach by ensuring all personnel are aware of their assigned roles. Furthermore, the absence of intentional plans and clearly defined tasks may exacerbate the severity of a data breach incident, potentially damaging a business’s reputation and financial stability.

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.

According to the Verizon 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, establishing an Incident Response Management program is crucial. This involves developing and maintaining an incident response capability, including policies, plans, procedures, defined roles, training, and communications—all of which are for preparing, detecting, and rapidly responding to attacks. An Incident Response Management plan holds significant importance across all security domains, particularly social engineering attacks for several reasons. Many of these attacks, such as pretexting, tend to escalate swiftly and can cause substantial impact. Equally vital to an established plan is ensuring that employees feel secure in reporting these incidents promptly, as the sooner incidents are reported, the quicker they can be addressed and mitigated.

Education on data protection is also crucial in developing an effective incident response plan. Regardless of size or structure, all organizations should consider implementing an effective incident response plan to help mitigate threats and maintain trust with stakeholders. Through adequate preparation and education, businesses can be better equipped to handle data breach incidents effectively.

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