Navigating Data Breach Liability: 5 Incident Response Strategies

Navigating Data Breach Liability: 5 Incident Response Strategies

Faced with a data breach, how should an organization respond to mitigate potential privacy liability and protect customer data? We’ve gathered five expert tips from leaders in the field, including a co-founder and professor and a digital PR. From planning ahead with DRP and BCP to establishing a prepared response team, these insights offer a roadmap to effective incident response.

  • Plan Ahead with DRP and BCP
  • Promote Teamwork, Not Blame
  • Prioritize Transparency and Prompt Communication
  • Prevent Breaches with Accountability
  • Establish a Prepared Response Team

Plan Ahead with DRP and BCP

Follow the plan. The worst-case scenario is having to figure out what you need to do when disaster strikes. That’s why you should have different plans worked out well before disaster hits. The most common versions of these are the Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) and the Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

The DRP focuses on recovering your infrastructure and data, while the BCP focuses on minimizing business disruptions. Both plans may be in the same document. These plans include a clear inventory of digital infrastructure and clear roles and tasks, basically, who does what. NIST provides ample guidance and a template of what these plans should contain. So, the hard work happens on a rainy day long before the storm arrives.

Dag FlachetDag Flachet
Co-Founder and Professor, Codific

Promote Teamwork, Not Blame

When a data breach occurs, your instinct as an owner or manager might be to single out the culprit. But this is a mistake. Putting the focus on one employee doesn’t reassure those with compromised data; in fact, it looks like what it is: an easy scapegoat.

The truth is, cybersecurity failures are almost always a systemic issue that can be traced back to training or procedure. Accepting this fact—and admitting it—lessens the likelihood of legal action, as customers and clients understand that remediation will be a holistic effort.


Protecting customer data in the aftermath of a breach can’t begin with division, so stifle the urge to blame. Instead, build a remediation task force that includes the offending employee or department, to show everyone involved you are still committed to working as a team.

Rob ReevesRob Reeves
CEO and President, Redfish Technology

Prioritize Transparency and Prompt Communication

One vital best practice that I often emphasize to my clients at Schmidt and Clark is transparency. In the unfortunate event of a data breach, being transparent and promptly informing affected parties, including customers, regulatory authorities, and stakeholders, is crucial. Open communication builds trust and demonstrates the organization’s commitment to addressing the issue responsibly.

First and foremost, it’s imperative to conduct a thorough internal investigation to understand the scope and nature of the breach. Identifying what data was compromised and how the breach occurred is essential. Simultaneously, organizations must comply with legal requirements by reporting the breach to relevant authorities and affected individuals within the stipulated time frames, as mandated by data-protection laws such as GDPR or HIPAA in the United States.

Mike SchmidtMike Schmidt
Civil Trial Law Specialist, Personal Injury Trial Law Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy., Schmidt & Clark

Prevent Breaches with Accountability

If there has been a breach, it’s too late. Start planning layoffs and start coming up with excuses for stockholders. Prevent breaches by instituting pervasive accountability through the use of digital signatures everywhere. Signatures should be from the private keys accompanying digital identity certificates.

Employees of suppliers, distributors, ad agencies, etc.,—outsiders with access to the company network—should be properly enrolled, and their certificates should carry a measure of the reliability of their identity claim.

Esther IbrahimEsther Ibrahim
Digital PR, The Authenticity Alliance

Establish a Prepared Response Team

First, it’s imperative to create a dedicated incident-response team. This team should comprise experts from various domains, including IT professionals, legal advisors, and communication specialists. Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of each team member is vital.

In addition, regular training, drills, and simulations are essential. These exercises help the team prepare for potential incidents and respond effectively when they occur. During these simulations, the team can practice containment, eradication, and recovery procedures. These drills not only help the incident-response team become more adept but also highlight areas in the plan that may need improvement.

Finally, communication plays a pivotal role. Being transparent and open in communication is fundamental to mitigate privacy liability and protect customer data. Organizations must inform affected parties, regulatory bodies, and the public in a timely and forthright manner.

Roy LamRoy Lam
CEO and Co-Founder, GeniusHub Digital Marketing

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