Crisis and opportunity in a data breach for implementing strong document security

According to crisis management experts, a crisis is a fluid and changing state of affairs that contains a balanced proportion of risk and opportunity. It is essentially a critical juncture, for better or worse. 

If you converse with any proficient data security specialist, they will inform you that most data breaches that take place today are fluid and changing. Unfortunately, these are also the reasons why it can be tricky to plan a data breach response before it takes place.

There is inherent danger involved in every data breach or suspected data infringement. There is a distinct threat that a hacker could obtain and abuse classified documents and data. Besides, there could be the risk of slander and loss of trust from consumers, employees and stockholders. And not to forget the uncertainty of prosecutions and hefty fines. A data breach also brings with it the risk of unnecessary job losses, typical firings and re-organizations that can hamper the confidence of the workforce, business functionalities and reduce profitability. The potential for economic, reputational and functional damage can be immense in the aftermath of a data breach.

However, a data breach can also present unique opportunities. When in the midst of a data breach crisis, it can be challenging to understand the positives that could be gleaned from it. But, if one looks at the opportunities, there are also rewards to be reaped. In many cases, data breaches take place for a reason. And in this setting, if there is an immediate response to such an incident, organizations begin to get involved with their consumers, workflows and shareholders more efficiently than before. They could also start taking unprecedented measures to listen, understand and react to the opinions and the outcome of the breach. Besides, a data breach can even swiftly remove inefficient officers and boost much-needed management changes. 

A data breach can also inspire leadership and management to appropriately invest and prioritize in forward-looking technologies, such as digital rights management [DRM], enterprise rights management [ERM] and document DRM, which can significantly enhance document security and work efficiency. A data breach can be a catalyst that can thrust companies and even entire sectors to become more robust in the long run, while empowering communicators to become organized and more productive.

However, the consequences of a data breach crisis are mainly contingent on how the entity reacts. Unfortunately, very few companies prepare in advance for a data breach or perceive a violation as a potential crisis. And hence, the vast majority who don’t do so may not have the necessary resources in place when a breach takes place that can effectively manage the incident and escalate efficiency. 

Every organization that stores, processes or shares large quantities of classified, sensitive or confidential documents and information must be equipped to handle a data breach incident.

Today, a good deal of companies that prepare in advance for a data crisis include it as part of their overall IT security incident response programs. Such programs are generally created within the IT department, and mainly due to historical reasons, not because it is the most accurate strategy. Way back in the early 2000s, virulent malware such as Blaster, Slammer and MyDoom devastated networks around the world. These worms infected thousands of computing systems worldwide and caused network outages. In response, IT teams implemented antivirus software, initiated network monitoring processes, instituted intrusion detection programs, updated and patched various applications and software and reimaged a variety of mechanisms. It was evident that the IT security community required a model to plan and respond to data breaches.

In the following years, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), released its IT security incident handling guide that defined an incident and laid down a classic model to respond to data breaches in four phases. These included:

  • Prepare
  • Detect and analyze
  • Contain, eradicate and recover
  • Post-incident activities

This model worked well when applied to most cybersecurity incidents in the early 2000s. And since then, this model has been adopted by organizations throughout the world as a foundation to plan and manage cybersecurity incident responses, including data infringements. Unfortunately, that’s where the problem arose. While the guide was extremely useful in handling and addressing a variety of cybersecurity-related incidents, a data breach, on the other hand, is not just an incident that could be bundled in the same category. It needed to be managed uniquely. And over the period, it was seen that the NIST model was inadequate in addressing a data breach. A profound mistake made by companies worldwide is to assume that a data breach is just another cybersecurity incident. Unfortunately, it is far more than that.

According to crisis management experts, data breaches, by their very nature, create risks in the following categories:

  • Intensifies in force
  • Falls under the intense scrutiny of media and government agencies
  • Hinders with the regular functionalities of a company
  • Threatens the positive public image enjoyed by the organization and its management
  • Erodes the company’s bottom line and profitability in every way

And in keeping with the differences between a data breach and the cybersecurity incident, the right document security technologies must be employed to handle data security alone. Digital rights management is the only proactive software that can protect classified, sensitive and confidential documents and PDF files. It can enable companies to set and impose copyright protection across secured data and even be used to create self destructing PDF documents. Regardless of whether you need to protect your market research, e-books, training materials, intellectual property, mergers and acquisition information and other classified data, protecting your digital content from unauthorized redistribution and restricting the ways your permitted users or recipients review your content can only be done through digital rights management.

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