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4 Tips for Surviving a Data Breach - Copy of Legal Best Practices_Header
8 min read

4 Tips for Surviving a Data Breach

There was a record-breaking number of cybersecurity attacks last year. According to IBM's Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021, the volume of data privacy incidents doubled in 2021 compared to 2020. Reasons include the sharp increase in remote work and complicated regulatory changes. Every state in the USA can develop its own policy on any given privacy regulation, resulting in hundreds of opportunities for unmitigated risk and liability. 

GCs and in-house legal teams have a heavy burden to bear when establishing data breach policies within your organization, especially regarding contract risk. In most cases, a data breach is a matter of “if,” not “when.” But it doesn’t have to leave you and your team feeling powerless.

We’ve gathered four high-level tips to help you survive a data breach:

 #1: Prepare

Preparation is arguably the most crucial step in this process. It requires thoughtful planning, analysis, and communication to be done successfully. Consider researching your state laws or doing a deep dive into your company’s cybersecurity insurance plan.

In addition to ensuring all your data is encrypted, you must also understand your data and what your obligations are to customers if that data is exposed. Check to see if all of your customer contracts are searchable and that they live in one centralized repository. If a cybersecurity incident occurs, you can easily scan contracts for a reliable single source of truth.

Once you’ve gathered this information, create a detailed incident response plan that carefully lays out the steps needed during a crisis. You should also consider performing tabletop exercises and identify other teams in your organization that would need to be involved.

 #2: Respond

It finally happened - the dreaded data breach. You have your plan, and it’s time to test the waters.

Communicating clearly and swiftly with the need-to-know players in your organization is paramount. Be prescriptive when giving teams tasks during a crisis, and only involve those who are part of your incident response plan. Don’t spread any kind of data breach information-confirmed or suspected to anyone not part of the plan before appropriate.

#3: Recover 

Do a post-mortem on the effectiveness of your incident plan. Ask yourself the following questions with the members of your incident response team:

  • How quickly did we identify the incident? 
  • Was it escalated to the legal team fast enough? 
  • Could the legal team quickly determine any legal and contractual obligations?
  • What data have we lost? 
  • What are the repercussions for us? 
  • How did we handle communication with our customers?
  • How effectively did we communicate as a team?  
  • Would our plan be effective if we were audited? 
  • Could we prove that we took impactful action?
  • What could we do better next time overall? 

Understanding the overall time it took to identify, manage, and recover from the data breach will help you fine-tune your plan for future incidents. 

To avoid conflict and litigation, manage the relationship with all affected partners, especially the ones most severely impacted. It may take months or even years to rebuild total trust, but it is the most critical step you can take as a legal authority.

#4: Be Empathetic 

As important as it is to focus on strategy and tactics, it’s also important to be empathetic. Empathy for yourself, your teammates, and anyone impacted by a data breach can change how you approach cybersecurity planning. Don’t focus on blaming or shaming anyone. It’s not productive and detracts from any proactive planning and damage control efforts that are worth your time and energy.

Cybersecurity contract management can be a beast, and taking charge of it’s more important than ever.  IBM's Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021 identified the importance of automation and security AI as crucial cost-saving items. AI provided the biggest cost mitigation for organizations that had it, saving up to 3.81 million dollars compared to organizations without it. 

LinkSquares provides powerful, AI-driven tools that can help-not hinder-your organization. Schedule a demo to learn how LinkSquares can help you gain contract confidence and protect your valuable data.

Christina Sullivan is a Content Marketing Manager at LinkSquares.