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Data Breach and Incident Response Plans | 2019 Templates & Best Practices

protect yourself from data breaches with response plans and practices

Every year, organizations hope that statistics for data breaches will improve, that things will be better than the year before. And every year, they are dismayed to discover that even though they’re pulling in new cybersecurity tactics to thwart cyber attacks, so are hackers pulling in new methods to discover their organizations’ weakest vulnerabilities.

It’s frustrating, to say the least. What’s more, it means IT and cybersecurity teams need to plan for the inevitability of a data breach. These incidents aren’t considered worst-case scenario anymore; they’re considered likely. And if businesses are to protect their sensitive data, they need to plan offensively.

The time to wait for a data breach and react after it happens is over. The importance of a data breach response plan is now.

Why Data Breach Response Plans Matter

According to a 2018 cybersecurity resilience study from IBM, "77% of business leaders admitted that they don’t have a formal cybersecurity incident response plan that’s applied consistently across their organization." That’s over three-fourths of the organizations that responded to this report. Extrapolate that percentage across the hundreds of thousands of businesses that handle sensitive information in their day-to-day processes, and you can see an unsettling trend occurring.

As data breaches incidents continue to grow, we’re failing to address them at an alarming rate. This costs vulnerable organizations thousands of dollars in fines, plummets overall customer satisfaction scores, and risks the personal details (including credit card information, health records, and social security numbers) of consumers.

What’s the solution? Make creating a response plan (or updating an existing but outdated one) part of your 2019 cybersecurity initiatives. Why? Because having a data breach prevention strategy in your back pocket can help streamline your actions when a cybersecurity incident occurs.

Creating and maintaining a data breach response plan should not be an optional step for IT teams. The causes of a data breach can be complex, all-consuming, and stressful, not to mention expensive. Data breaches can be monumentally expensive, stressful, and challenging to address—and that’s only if you know what steps you need to take to respond. Sailing into 2019 with no response plan and no knowledge of how to address a breach is a recipe for disaster, one many organizations never come back from.

Data Breach Templates & Best Practices for 2019

If you’re ready to get started, we can help. Here’s a list of the best incident response plan templates and best practices we could find for 2019’s modern cybersecurity needs.

1. Security Breach Response Plan Toolkit (International Association of Privacy Professionals)

The International Association of Privacy Professionals (or IAPP) has created a security breach response plan toolkit for any cybersecurity or IT professionals who need to make a thorough plan of attack. It includes a 31-point questionnaire that will guide you in the right direction and next steps that will help turn that direction into a solid and actionable plan for the future.

2. Data Breach Response Plan (Experian)

Experian often says "it’s not a question of if but when an organization will experience a security incident," and as industries have seen, this holds true year after year. To help your organization plan for this, Experian has compiled this guide for responding to data breaches. It contains how to engage the C-Suite in your plans, how to create and practice your plan, how to test your preparedness, and even dives into responding to a data breach when you experience one. This is a useful resource for any IT team looking to start a plan or improve their current one.

3. Defending Against Data Breach: Developing the Right Strategy for Data Encryption (GoAnywhere from HelpSystems)

It’s true that the odds are against organizations when it comes to data breaches (assuming Experian is right and it’s not a question of "if" but rather of "when"), but you can still take every precaution to make sure you are the exception to that statement. In this white paper, we guide IT management through how they can deploy strong security technologies to encrypt, monitor, and audit the access and use of sensitive information within an organization's system, and explains the steps they can take to protect their file transfers from data breach vulnerabilities.

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4. Data Breach Response: A Guide for Business (Federal Trade Commission (FTC))

This guide is half data breach preparation (for before you’re breached) and half data breach response (for after you’ve been breached). Use the 12-page document from the Federal Trade Commission to review and understand what you should do if your data is compromised. Even if you’ve already created an incident response plan, having this inside information in your arsenal could fill in any gaps you might have missed.

5. Responding to a Data Breach: A How-To-Guide for Incident Management (PCI Security Standards)

Are you in the banking or finance industry and need a more visual look at a data breach response plan? If time is of the essence and you’d like a guide that’s broken down into digestible chunks, this 3-page how-to from PCI Security Standards might just be what you’re looking for, especially if you’re required to remain PCI DSS compliant. This guide includes guidelines on how and when to work with a Payment Card Industry Forensic Investigator (or PFI) and offers an extra set of data breach resources and templates at the end.

6. Guide for Cybersecurity Event Recovery (National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST))

The National Institute of Standards and Technology released this guide a while ago, but we’ve put it on our list of data breach and incident response plans every year for good reason: NIST knows their stuff when it comes to cybersecurity best practices. Use this comprehensive event recovery guide to plan for and recover from cybersecurity incidents like data breaches or ransomware attacks. It’ll walk you step by step through the stages of planning, improving, building, and understanding your recovery policy, so you can enter 2019 ready to take on any cyber menace you meet.

7. How to Create a Cybersecurity Policy for Your Organization (GoAnywhere from HelpSystems)

While knowing how to respond to a data breach is key in critical situations, we also want to make sure you’re equipped to prevent them as best you can. To do that, we’ve written an article that explores how to create a cybersecurity policy, including securing management buy-in, determining security guidelines (with a short questionnaire), and educating employees. Templates and examples from knowledgeable third parties are included.

Think Like a Hacker and Secure Your Data

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