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How to reduce the effects of a data breach

Data breaches and the protection of data has never been more prominent in the business world. Data breaches can be in the form of data theft or the loss of data through other means, whatever form they take, they can be detrimental to businesses. With GDPR going into effect May 2018, businesses need to do all they can in order to comply with the regulation. One of the major parts of the regulation is to ensure the protection of data or facing dire consequences.

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If you are unlucky enough to have to deal with a data breach, then you should ensure that you have steps in place to follow in order to keep the damage of the breach low. With GDPR there are set guidelines which businesses need to follow, they vary from acquiring data to the protection of it. Failure to comply can have damaging consequences. Here are some ways in which you can stay in line with GDPR as well as do your best to mitigate the effects of a data breach.

Data breach contingency plan

Ensure that you have a contingency plan to follow with regards to a data breach. Your contingency plan should highlight the different kind of breaches that can occur and how to deal with them. For example, if a data breach has occurred which involves the theft of data, then steps would include reporting the breach and then contacting the individuals affected by the breach and making them aware of what has happened. Having a contingency plan will help you be prepared for the worst and it will ensure that you have a guideline to follow if a damaging event such as a data breach occurs. Additionally, a plan will help you avoid chaos and allow you to take logical steps, rather than panicking, as data breaches can be huge disruption to businesses. You should also make sure that your plan of action is in compliance with GDPR.

GDPR guidelines

Make sure that your data handling policies are in line with the upcoming regulation, especially if GDPR applies to you. This will mitigate the effect of the data breach because it will ensure compliance — a lack of compliance can lead to hefty fines, which could ultimately damage the business. GDPR also highlights how and when you need to report data breaches. When you find out that your business has been victim of a data breach, you need to report is straight away or at the very least within 72 hours. Considering that a lot of businesses may not even notice that a data breach has taken place for months, this could cause a problem for many.

Regular assessments

You need to regularly carry out risk assessments to keep on top of your data security. Carrying out regular assessments will allow you to see any area of weakness and vulnerability. It will also help you identify areas which can be improved for better security of data. Risk assessments may seem tedious and time consuming, however it is easier to carry out risk assessments than deal with data breaches. When carrying out a risk assessment, consider the following: what data are you storing, how the data is used, how it is protected, the IT system and the compliance of data protection with the legal regulations.

During the data breach

When you are made aware of a data breach, it will be a stressful and possibly a chaotic environment. When a data breach occurs, you need to have people who will take charge and deal with the issues that arise. Having a data breach reaction team will ensure that you are prepared — a good team of people who are aware of their roles and responsibilities in case of a data breach paired with a contingency plan means that the data breach could actually be something that is easily dealt with.

After the data breach

The first step you need to take is to address what data has been effected by the data breach, as this will give you a starting point as to what to do next. If the data that has been lost or stolen belongs to individuals, then you will need to contact them and make them aware of the situation. They may become victims of identity theft etc., therefore making those individuals aware will reduce the risk of damage.

Data breaches can be hugely damaging to businesses, however taking steps to mitigating the damage is essential. As well as lowering the damage that could happen because of a data breach you need to focus on GDPR and compliance of it.

More on GDPR and how it affects small businesses.

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