Minimize breach response cost with operational strategy
While the costs of a data breach can vary widely on a case-by-case basis, CIOs who understand the drivers behind the expense will be better positioned to take steps needed to protect their organization.
Here are 6 way to minimize breach response cost:
- Eliminate data you do not need.
You can potentially dramatically reduce your exposure by destroying records of past customers. You cannot lose data if you do not save it. In 2015 one company served 69 million customers, yet when they were breached that year, they exposed 78 million records. The extra nine million records most likely come from former customers. Each of these individuals had to be notified and offered credit monitoring, driving up costs.
- Do not store street address if there is no real business requirement.
When a breach occurs, companies are typically required to notify affected individual via old-fashioned, handwritten “snail mail.” But they can use alternative methods of notification, such as email or public announcement if they do not have a valid mailing address. Physical, written notifications can cost up to $2 per person, and the cost quickly adds up. It may be worth asking twice what the business need for those customer addresses is and considering not capturing these addresses to reduce the exposure to notification requirements.
- Utilize logs to prove proof a breach or data loss did not occur.
One industry study shows that in 44% of incidents, public notification is not required. To avoid notification, companies must prove that, even if they were attacked, no records were improperly accessed. To do so, they use systems logs. Without logs, a company may be forced to assume a breach occurred because it cannot prove otherwise.
- Follow PCI rules and protect credit card data.
For breaches that involve credit card data, reimbursing card companies for fraudulent transactions can amount to a staggering cost, from $3-$30 or more per card. New chip cards are designed to reduce fraud, and early data show they are having the intended effect – MasterCard reported a 54% reduction in counterfeit card fraud costs at retailers who have switched to chip cards.
- Use experts who know the breach response landscape.
Your breach response effort is not a good time to reinvent the wheel. Missteps happen fast and have serious consequences. Credit monitoring alone can cost $5 to $30 per person. Data breach specialists, such as PR consultants or data privacy lawyers, often have seen as many as hundreds of data breaches and are highly practiced at helping you craft a genuine story that keeps confusion – and costs – down.
- Be prepared for additional audits and compliance reviews.
In the wake of a breach, a company may be audited and investigated by a number of regulatory agencies. While it’s not guaranteed to occur, it is likely, and there are simple steps you can take to prevent sensational fines if it does. To start, CIOs and CFOs should be strong advocates for the implementation of the security controls recommended by external auditors or by regulators themselves.