As data breaches continue to grow more common, organizations must learn to effectively notify affected individuals and stakeholders when data becomes compromised. Citizens and governments are concerned about the possibility and fallout of a data breach. As a result, organizations in nearly every jurisdiction must now provide notification of data breaches. This article gives a detailed overview of providing notification of a data breach by covering the following topics:
- Legal Requirements for Providing Notification of Data Breach
- How to Provide Notification of Data Breach
- Best Practices for Providing Notification of Data Breach
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Legal Requirements for Providing Notification of Data Breach
Depending on the location of your organization and the jurisdiction of your data subjects, different regulations govern the requirements for providing notification of a data breach. However, the goal of these regulations is largely the same. They all aim to provide data subjects with adequate time to protect themselves from the harm of their data becoming compromised. Some also require the organization to offer support to affected individuals such as providing identity protection services.
United States Laws Requiring Notification of Data Breach
In the United States, several federal laws require organizations to notify individuals and other organizations in the event of a data breach. The primary federal laws that require notification of data breaches include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA).
HIPAA requires healthcare providers and their business associates to notify individuals and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of a data breach involving protected health information (PHI). The GLBA requires financial institutions to notify individuals of a data breach involving non-public personal information (NPI).
In addition to federal laws, all 50 states have some type of law requiring notification of data breaches. These state laws have different requirements and timeframes for notification, making it essential for organizations to stay up-to-date on the laws in the states where they operate. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Cybersecurity Regulation are some of the most well-known state laws that require notification of data breaches.
EU Laws Requiring Notification of Data Breach
In the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the main law that requires organizations to notify individuals and relevant authorities in the event of a data breach. The GDPR defines a data breach as “a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed.”
Under the GDPR, organizations are required to notify the relevant authorities and affected individuals of a data breach without undue delay and, where feasible, not later than 72 hours after becoming aware of the breach. The notification must include a description of the nature of the data breach, the categories, and an approximate number of individuals and personal data records concerned. It must also include the measures taken or proposed to be taken to address the data breach.
In addition to the GDPR, some EU countries have laws that also require notification of data breaches. These laws may have slightly different requirements and time frames for notification, making it essential for organizations to be aware of the laws in the EU countries where they operate.
How to Provide Notification of Data Breach
Providing notification of a data breach is an important step in protecting individuals’ data and maintaining trust in the organization. The following is a step-by-step guide for providing notification of a data breach:
- Contain the breach: The first step in responding to a data breach is to contain it and prevent further data loss. At a minimum, containing a breach should include disconnecting compromised systems, changing passwords, and implementing other security measures to prevent the attacker from continuing to access the organization’s data.
- Assess the scope of the breach: Once the breach is contained, the organization should assess the scope of the data breach. In this assessment, determine what types of personal data were affected, how many individuals were affected, and when the breach occurred.
- Notify relevant authorities and affected individuals: Organizations must notify the relevant authorities and affected individuals as soon as possible after becoming aware of it. The time frame to do this may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of data breached.
- Provide support: Providing support to affected individuals can help them protect their personal data after a breach occurs and minimize potential consequences.
Best Practices for Providing Notification of Data Breach
When providing notification of a data breach, organizations must craft their messaging carefully to minimize reputational damage and remain compliant. So, here are a few best practices when providing notification for a data breach:
- Transparency is key: Being transparent about the nature of the data breach, including the types of personal data that were affected and the steps that are being taken to address the breach helps affected individuals understand the potential risks to their personal data and take appropriate steps to protect it.
- Continual improvement: Maintain a culture of continual improvement by reviewing the data breach incident and the organization’s response to it. Then, use this information to improve data security and incident response plans. This can help prevent future data breaches and improve the organization’s overall security posture.
- Communicate with stakeholders: Keeping stakeholders including employees, partners, customers, and other relevant parties informed throughout the incident, as well as post-incident helps to keep them reassured that the organization is taking the necessary steps to address the incident.
- Document the process: Documenting the entire process of identifying, responding, and reporting the data breach provides a future resource and can be required for regulatory compliance.
A data breach can have serious consequences for both individuals and organizations. Without proper notification of a data breach, individuals can not take action to minimize the potential harm caused by their personal data becoming exposed. In most jurisdictions, organizations must provide this notification to remain compliant and avoid serious penalties.
Satori’s data security platform provides automated and secure access to data. Satori’s just-in-time and self-service access to data ensures that access to data is safe and secured. The additional ability to audit and monitor data access and analyze data access logs provides an additional layer of security.
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