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Preparing for a Cybersecurity Breach

Even as the economy seems to be improving, company budgets likely remain tight. However, in light of recent large scale data breaches such as K-Mart, Home Depot and Target, companies should be re-assessing their own data security measures. That assessment brings the need to increase spending on IT infrastructure and defensive mechanisms. UBS AG released a survey of 101 CIOs, finding that almost 70% expect security spending to be among the top allocations of overall IT spending. Although protection of data remains top priority, the major cyber breaches have taught us that spending additional funds on preparing for a response to a breach may be just as important. Funds will be well spent on establishing a plan for responding to a breach. Most large corporations already have plans in place, but smaller companies may need to assess their needs and/or re-assess their current plans. Preparing for a cybersecurity breach allows for defining roles and responsibilities that will allow for better coordination between departments and/or groups within a department. A detailed plan allows companies to minimize risk of further loss. Importantly, a well written and executed plan may be beneficial in the context of litigation to show a judge or jury the steps already put in place to minimize the effects of any breach that may occur. In addition, the plan will allocate responsibility for complying with federal and state reporting requirements, which in turn may also reduce the company’s liability in the event of a breach. Thus, some preparation and planning now, may provide for savings in the future.

A well-defined plan should include:

  1. All legal requirements for reporting a breach;
  2. Identification of an incident response team;
  3. Assignment of responsibilities to each response team member;
  4. Schedule for conducting regular reviews of the plan to include technology improvements and any changes in the law.