Are you at risk of a data hack? Stay calm and have a plan

Business

Are you at risk of a data hack? Stay calm and have a plan

Not a matter of if your data will be breached, but when

Nora Shelly

The risk of any company or its customers becoming a victim of a data breach is high and increasing, says specialist technology lawyer Preeta Bhagattjee. It is not so much a matter of if data will be hacked, but when.
A data breach, such as the Equifax incident that exposed the personal information of 143 million people, can have disastrous consequences, Bhagattjee warned. But having a plan to deal with it was key to the outcome.
Bhagattjee said customers should be aware of what information they put online.“When a breach occurs, it is important to take proactive steps,” she said, recommending people contact their banks if their account information has been compromised.
Companies should start by assessing their risk, how much data was exposed, and what the legal obligations are for notifying customers and other stakeholders.After a breach, companies should try to learn from their mistakes and update their action plan, said Bhagattje, who is a technology and sourcing director at law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
“It could really save you from shutting down your doors if a really serious data breach should affect your organisation.”
A solid response plan can also help reduce chaos if a commercial crime occurs within a company, said Zaakir Mohamed, who works in Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s investigations department.The best things to do when allegations of a crime come to light, Mohamed said, are to loop in attorneys right away and keep the allegations under wraps, as only those who need to know should be told of the investigation.
“You don’t want to inadvertently tip off a suspect,” he said.
Bhagattjee said advances in technology may make it hard to keep up with compliance standards.
“Regulation in the technology era is so difficult because the regulators are constantly trying to keep up, and the cyber crooks … really are 10 steps ahead,” Bhagattjee said. “I think you’re going to see it get worse before it gets better.”

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