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Dealing with a security breach

by on January 22, 2013

Dealing with a security breach

Every network is vulnerable to some type of attack or security breach, but if your company’s systems are violated, it can lead to loss of trust, client exodus and plummeting stock value, not to mention the high cost of informing affected parties and investigating the breach.

However, by having watertight response plan in place, the fallout from a breach can be curtailed. We’ve put together a response checklist that you can adapt for your business.

Report first, investigate second

Time is of the essence when security has been compromised. Acting quickly can prevent information leaked in a security compromise from being processed and processed by the violator.

As soon as you’ve become aware of a breach, you need to ascertain its scope to determine how to act. What’s been compromised and how? Who’s been affected? How widespread is the breach? Who is responsible?

There is always a question mark over whether to investigate or report the breach first. It’s worth knowing these details before taking the breach to the top, but the whys and the wherefores can wait, as it getting bogged down in too much detail will waste valuable time.

By discreetly reporting the breach to upper management, and putting into action a pre-organised curtailment plan, you will be in a better position to respond should the issue get picked up the media.

In the spotlight

If the breach is widespread or of public interest, one of the first things you may need to do as a CIO is explain the breach in a layman’s’ terms to the waiting media.

From a PR perspective, you need to demonstrate that you have followed security regulation best practice, as well as complied with industry security standards and minimum legal requirements. If you can demonstrate you have followed every measure to the letter, then how swiftly you notify and repatriate affected parties, whose personal information has been put at risk that could save face for your company.

Prevent system failure

However, if your systems have in some way fallen short, your company may face being slapped with punitive damages as regulators levy a fine, but perhaps more importantly, the reputation of your company will face a hammering.

Ensure you update your security systems with all the latest updates and patches. Have a system in place for warning workers of potential malware, and a system for locking down mobile technology. Keep abreast of the latest security developments from the perspective of risk and prevention.

Plan for recovery

If you’ve dealt with a security breach appropriately, and concerns about its impact have been allayed, it’s important to learn from the failure to prevent further issues. Close any gaps that have been exposed and as far as possible future proof security measures. If you keep security your top priority, you will be able to fight off any threats to both your systems, and your company’s reputation.

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