Data breaches: Why and how to handle the attack


In the past few years, several powerful multinational corporations had to announce data breaches publicly. Most of these data breaches ended up putting sensitive information, some of it belonging to clients, at risk.

Of course, if it was only about the data, the backup assistant option, like the one described in Intego Mac Review by Florence McNeil, could work. However, when it touches the business or public sphere, everything changes. The way the company responds to a data breach can either make or break you and your leadership.

Failure to handle data breaches properly can lead to immediate resignations and firing of people in managerial posts. On the other hand, operating a breach properly can increase people’s trust in a brand.

It can also eliminate the risk of lawsuits and additional costs. In some instances, companies have even handled data breaches properly, and their share prices increased.

This article looks at how you can adequately steer your company in the wake of a data breach.

How Does a Data Security Breach Happen?

Data breaches: Why and how to handle the attack

A data breach can occur as a result of the following:

  • Theft of data storage equipment, like computers and hard drives;
  • Access by unauthorized personnel;
  • Failure of equipment;
  • Human error;
  • Unexpected events like a fire or flood;
  • ‘Blagging’ or ‘Phishing’ attacks (more employees are clicking phishing emails now).

Knowing the source and its examination usually are of the utmost importance. The definition of the origin can tell you what to expect and how severe the impact.

There are several options before the owners of the theft data. They are either professionals, obtained the info specifically, or amateurs, having it by chance. Thus, identifying the threat starts with the first vital step – gathering information.

Gathering of Information

The first method includes gathering essential information relating to the breach. The affected company will most likely appoint a team of people to handle the investigation and processes. The unit can collect the following pieces of information:

  • What time did the breach take place?
  • Where did it occur?
  • Who first noticed the breach, and how did they notice?
  • What caused the breach?
  • What type of data is involved?
  • Who should be informed about the breach and when?
  • Is there anything that can be done to stop further losses and contain the damage?

The dedicated team should appoint a leader to take charge and direct how everyone should help in handling the incident. The leader will also need to share information with several departments and escalate the matter to senior management to make decisions promptly.

Containment measures

While the particular step is in the process of implementation, other basic rules shall be applied.

  • If the breach was a result of system failure, then the system should be shut down.
  • Passwords should be changed immediately
  • Deciding whether the company should seek additional help or handle the matter on its own.
  • Limiting access of individuals who might be suspected to have caused or committed the breach.
  • Conveying the message to law enforcement if any criminal activities are involved or laws were broken.
  • Initiation of the corrective action.

The particular set of actions would deter further escalation and would help to restore control over the situation.

Identify emergency contacts

Another critical concept refers to communication with stakeholders. Emergency defines the possible impact of the breach. Subject to IBM 2020 Report, incident response determines the most significant potential for cost savings. Thus, there should be emergency communication appealing to vital actors.

Below are some of the contacts that you need to keep on speed dial regarding data breaches.

  • Regulators
  • Law enforcement
  • Forensics recovery
  • Vendor partners
  • Clients
  • Business partners

Unless your employees are adequately equipped to deal with such incidences, any attempts they make to deal with a breach can lead to the loss of substantial evidence.

It would be best if you look at and always have competent forensics specialists at your disposal. They can help on so many levels, including identification, containment of a breach, and recovery.

How to Lower The Risk of a Data Breach

Data breaches: Why and how to handle the attack

Risk assessment

There are certain types of breaches that will not result in data ending up in the wrong hands. For instance, if a laptop ceases to function, data will be lost, but it will not lead to any risks that are beyond inconvenience. If the files were backed up, the only corrective measure would be to restore the data on another laptop or fix that one.


A clearly outlined response plan to a data breach can be the difference between a successful containment and recovery and a disaster of epic proportions. When crafting your data breach response plan, begin by identifying the possible weak links in your system where a breach might likely take place.

That should be followed by detailed outlines of how you would manage violations in those particular areas. You should also take a look at whether or not there is something that you can do to decrease the risk of breaches in those areas. This is where you consider either a top-down or bottom-up approach to establish the right assessment policy.

Step two would be to go through your system and identify plausible scenarios. These should not be too complicated. All you need is clear guidance for a response.


  • What would happen if you come across illegal content or details of the illicit activity on a client’s personal computer?
  • How would you ensure that workers whose contracts have ended do not continue having access to sensitive information?

After identifying these scenarios, you can then rank them according to order or increasing or decreasing importance. You will also need to identify indicators of compromise. These are how you will if a data breach has taken place.

Having such indicators will enable your response team to act quickly and effectively to deal with the breach. Furthermore, you should also be aware of how deep your data goes. This can allow you to determine the possible motives of those who will want to access your data.

Always ensure that you are covered

There is no single company that is immune to data breaches. In most cases, it’s just a matter of when and where the breach will take place.

Always have an up to date cybersecurity insurance plan. You should note, though, that not all insurance policies are the same. Get adequate details from your provider explaining the exact terms and conditions of the policy you have.

A lot of insurance policies only handle the investigation, containment, and notification costs. Recovery is not usually encompassed in the coverage.

Stay updated with the latest information on compliance notification laws

Ensure that you and your team are aware of the laws covering data. You should know which of these regulations apply to your specific organization and team. As a company, you should have a chief compliance officer who is knowledgeable, and they should identify who to notify first and when. If you fail to comply with these rules, your company can suffer far more significant losses. which


It is always important to keep in mind that the same factors that make you essential to your client as a data manager are the same ones that tend to attract security threats.

Armed with such knowledge, you should therefore ensure that you are always alert and prepare to properly store, access, and maintain information and keep it away from the reach of cybercriminals. Your links to an assortment of platforms, vendors, and clients are of interest to unscrupulous individuals. As they look at your organization, they see a one-stop-shop for banking details, credit information, social security numbers, sensitive personal information.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.

Last Updated on February 3, 2021.


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