How to Manage Your Team Through a Security Breach

The Christmas & New Year’s holidays used to be prime time for office robberies, everyone’s at home for the week, it’s quiet, emergency services are distracted… but nowadays, the biggest robberies tend to be cyber-based. Below, Matt Smith, CEO of SteelEye, talks to CEO Today about the 4 steps to take in managing your workforce through a security breach.

In an increasingly digital and data-oriented world, security breaches are no longer a distant threat but closer to an inevitability. Recent data breaches at companies ranging from credit reporting agencies to web service providers and transport tech companies are proof that neither sector nor size makes firms immune from such cyber-attacks.

In fact, according to research and advisory firm Gartner, by 2020, 60% of digital businesses will suffer major service failures due to the inability of IT security teams to manage digital risk[1]. As traditional companies continue to transition to digital businesses, it is even more likely that many firms will be faced with security challenges.

Protecting data, both that of the company and their customers, will be even more imperative as we enter a year rife with new regulations. The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II), the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD 2) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) all come into force in 2018, requiring businesses to improve their due diligence and security measures to ensure that their client and customer data remains safe; otherwise, they risk facing large penalties.

As CEO of a company managing vast amounts of regulatory data, data protection is paramount, we understand the importance of spending time, resources and money on the strongest data security and protection capabilities in the market. Here are some ways that that business leaders can manage their teams through a security breach in an effort to minimize the financial and reputation impact of such an event.

Implement a strategy

Despite the prevalence of major data security breaches, many firms are still of the mindset that it won’t happen to them, meaning they are often unprepared when a breach does occur. The first 24 hours after a security breach are often the most important, so moving swiftly is vital. Business leaders should start by developing a clear response and act immediately to help mitigate the damage. As blanket security processes will be ineffective, begin putting in place the team you need to help minimise the damage of the breach, understand how it occurred and prevent it from happening again in the future.

It is worth noting that the security strategy you implement should interfere as little as possible with your business’s day-to-day operations and should be scalable to meet your particular business needs. A business cannot simply lock down their systems nor can they implement so many checks that their system becomes unusable as the business must remain profitable and functional while recovering from a breach.

Assess severity of breach and engage with IT

Once the issue has been flagged, an immediate step should be to notify your IT team of what’s occurred and work alongside them in order to remedy it. In instances where a large amount of client or customer data has been breached, firms should also consider working with a third party provider to show the public there has not been a conflict of interest. This will also help to control some of the reputational damage as you will be seen to be taking the attack seriously.

Notify the parties involved

One of the most important first steps that should be taken in the wake of a breach is to notify all victims involved. Firms have a legal obligation to report a hack to regulators and should also notify stakeholders. Messaging should be consistent and all parties should continue to be updated as the situation unfolds.

You should also ensure that your team is aware of the risks and they should be armed with the answers they need to continue doing their job effectively. Breaches can be stressful for all parties involved, so getting the right message across to your team, and getting them on board with your internal processes is crucial.

Often, being honest and doing the right thing is vital to protecting some of your reputation in the long run. Your team should act in the most honest and upfront way possible, making sure that your organisation and its clients are fully briefed and aware of the situation.

Prevent future breaches

After the breach is over, take time to reflect on the situation and put the necessary enhanced procedures in place to minimize the risk of recurrence. Businesses should appoint a suitably-qualified in-house security or compliance officer to manage and identify any security flaws, make improvements to your practices and monitor adherence.

Another option is to engage third party consultants who can assess your company’s readiness and help identify areas of risk. Using a cloud-based platform ensures your data will be stored in a logical, comprehensible way and will be consistently managed and upgraded as your provider will take a proactive approach to patches and fixes, committing to best practice in all respects.

Although you will inevitably suffer some damage from the security breach, incorporating higher levels of security will help rebuild trust, loyalty and confidence in your brand.


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