Surviving the Damages of a Data Breach

Just about the last thing that any IT organization wants to experience is a data breach. The ramifications of misappropriated data can be severe and long-lasting to both the organization and individuals affected. You might get an argument from some observers who say a disaster that destroys a computing environment is on par or even worse than a data breach.

I disagree with that assessment for a couple of reasons. For one, an enterprise that values its IT systems should have a disaster recovery plan in place that can quickly get them up and running again. Information may be inaccessible for an indeterminate amount of time in a disaster scenario, but it is still intact and will eventually be restored to its previous state. A business must be prepared to withstand the financial repercussions of an extended IT outage.

The second point is that the damage inflicted on an organization in the wake of a data breach is much more unpredictable and potentially far-reaching. It affects not only the organization whose data resources have been breached but also every individual whose information was compromised. There may be financial penalties handed down to the enterprise and compensation might need to be offered to those impacted by the breach. Long-term effects include a loss of customer trust in the safety of their data and compromised personal information that can be very hard to successfully quantify and address.

How Organizations Should React to a Data Breach

When an organization is impacted by sensitive customer or employee data being compromised, its first instinct may to be attempt to minimize the problem by keeping it under wraps. This is not a viable strategy. Here are four steps that every organization that experiences a data breach should perform.

Contain the breach - This step involves determining how the breach occurred and implementing plans to minimize the damage. The actions required depend on the specifics of the breach and may involve shutting down systems until the issue is resolved.

Assess the risks - The scope of the damage caused by the breach is dependent on the type and amount of data that has been affected. A thorough understanding of the data items will identify the possible risks of its misuse and influence who shold be informed of the breach.

Make all necessary notifications - Based on the risk assessment, the affected organization needs to inform the appropriate parties. These may be regulatory agencies as well as the individuals whose data was compromised.

Strengthen defenses - Data breaches point out ineffective or missing measures designed to protect enterprise information assets. Making sure that the organization never falls victim to the same issues again should be a high priority activity.

Protecting Yourself From the Aftermath of a Data Breach

Individuals affected by compromised personal data need to take multiple actions to help mitigate the damage. These steps should be taken as soon as possible to provide the most effective protection against the misuse of sensitive personal data.

  • Verify that the breach has occurred and that your data was involved. Get this information directly from the company that was storing your data.

  • Find out what type of information has been compromised. The loss of more sensitive data like Social Security numbers may need to be addressed in a different way than if it is merely login information for an eCommerce site.

  • Accept any help offered by the breached organization such as free credit monitoring or identity theft protection.

  • Strengthen your online logins and passwords to guard against unauthorized access to other accounts. It’s a good idea to change all of your login credentials as soon as possible.

  • Monitor all of your accounts closely and follow up with the appropriate organizations based on the type of data that was stolen. This may involve filing your taxes early or instituting a credit freeze to thwart criminals from opening new accounts with your credentials.

Protecting Your SQL Servers from Unauthorized Access

Keeping sensitive data safe starts with understanding where this type of information exists in your IT landscape. Without this knowledge, it’s impossible to address the security concerns required to protect enterprise data resources. In large SQL Server environments, it can be difficult to keep tabs on where sensitive personal data is stored and who has access to it.

IDERA’s SQL Compliance Manager can help prevent data breaches by keeping you informed of the state of your SQL Servers regarding the regulatory standards that may be associated with the information in your databases. It can identify who is attempting to access sensitive data and alert against suspicious activity that may put data resources at risk. It also provides extensive compliance reporting capabilities that will assist in meeting internal and external audit requirements.

SQL Compliance Manager lets you audit privileged users to track and report on database access. The tool includes audit templates for many regulatory standards including GDPR, SOX, and HIPAA that can be customized to your specifications. It’s a great tool that will help database teams minimize the potential of data breaches and stay on the right side of the regulatory authorities.

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