I’ve heard of data breaches being a “make or break” moment in the career of a privacy professional. And it’s true; we’re seeing more and more the consequences of poor data breach management placed on specific individuals and teams. But the other side of the coin is that, if your organization can effectively:
- Manage privacy incidents and data breaches
- Take sufficient post-incident risk mitigation steps
- Perform objective, consistent, and fully documented incident risk assessment and breach notification decisions, every time
…you can avoid the risk of over or under-reporting, regulatory fines, and unwarranted reputational damage. You can become a privacy champion within your organization.
And this is part of what drove me to first conceive of and develop RADAR intelligent incident response software. I saw firsthand the very real stakes of poor privacy incident response. I knew the challenges to privacy professionals who were already overextended and stretched thin in a role that is high stress and heaps an abundance of responsibilities without the benefit of automation and tools designed specifically to address the unique challenges of privacy incident response.
Privacy professionals managing cross-regional or global operations are faced with the daunting challenge of compliance with a rapidly evolving patchwork of data breach notification regulations. This creates operational, regulatory, and reputational risks.
Incident management and data breach notification become complex and fraught with risk for organizations obligated to protect consumer data given the rapid introduction of new data breach laws and the lack of a standard definition of personal data or harm standards across regulations – not to mention the ticking clock with accelerated required regulatory timelines for notification.
These challenges, though hefty, are no excuse. Any privacy professional will tell you that when it comes to managing incident breach response, “good enough” simply will not do.
A Unified, Global Framework for Incident Response
In developing RADAR over the last decade, and working collaboratively with our customers and law firm partners (who I would say represent the blue ribbon standard in privacy), we have established best practices in operationalizing incident response. Years of experience have shown me that effective incident response programs are centered around a unified, scalable framework for managing global data breach notification obligations.
What do I mean by a unified framework? For RADAR customers, this means leveraging purpose-built and proven incident response automation to ensure consistency, accelerate decision-making time, eliminate the risk of over and under-reporting, and stay current and compliant with the changing regulatory landscape.
A unified framework goes beyond legal libraries and documentation workflows, as these do not address the fundamental requirements that an effective solution must provide: consistent and defensible multi-factor incident risk scoring for making notification decisions in all applicable jurisdictions regardless of how each jurisdiction may define a notifiable breach.
Lastly, a unified incident response framework takes into consideration every operational phase of the incident lifecycle, from discovery to notification and remediation, and feeds that data back into privacy reporting and best practices for continuous program improvement.
Organizational Alignment with the Core Operational Phases of Incident Response
Let’s look at the core operational phases of incident response, and how a unified, technology-driven framework can be put to action every step along the way:
Incident Intake and Escalation
The first challenge in managing incident response is to streamline the incident escalation process. Identifying incidents and escalating them with sufficient details to the appropriate stakeholders is a race against the clock – under some regulations, this qualifies as becoming first informed of the incident and leads to a mad dash to establishing awareness of the breach.
The subsequent obligations for regulatory notification may have to take place in as little as 72 hours based on a risk assessment. Providing a unified and simple to use the channel of escalation that employees can be trained to use is an important operational phase in managing incident response.
Customizable RADAR web forms streamline incident intake and bring consistency and completeness to the incident details captured, with timely alerts to privacy and security teams for immediate action. RADAR’s modern APIs allow for additional automation and system integration, bridging the gap between security and GRC systems for operational efficiency and risk management.
Consistent Incident Risk Assessment
Consistency in incident risk assessment is critical for any organization – and yet remains one of the biggest challenges. This is magnified when dealing with a patchwork of global data breach laws, each with different definitions of data breach, personal data, exceptions, notification thresholds, and notification timelines. When an incident involves the sensitive data of individuals from multiple regions of the globe, an operationalized risk assessment process must be consistent, efficient, and effective according to all applicable laws to ensure compliance and avoid over or under-reporting.
In other words, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to performing a risk of harm assessment under different breach laws. Tools that only provide law libraries and documentation workflows are incapable of addressing this fundamental requirement to deliver a unified, consistent global incident response solution.
RADAR’s proven Breach Guidance Engine™ automates and simplifies the risk of harm assessment process to produce 100% consistent, defensible results in support of an organization’s breach or no breach decision to notify. RADAR customers leverage the power of the RADAR multi-factor risk of harm assessment model, which takes into account the sensitivity of the personal data and severity of the incident to produce a heatmap risk score and decision-support guidance according to all applicable laws. Because security incidents and data breaches can often trigger contractual notification obligations, RADAR also ensures compliance with third-party data protection and vendor agreements. RADAR’s jurisdiction-specific risk assessment helps organizations avoid over or under-reporting while establishing a comprehensive and documented burden of proof for compliance.
Streamline the Notification Process
Managing the notification process and generating notification letters to individuals, regulatory agencies, data protection authorities, and business clients creates operational challenges as well. Maintaining counsel-approved notification letter templates and ensuring that each notice meets the regulatory, contractual, and strategic needs of the organization requires sophisticated automation. Privacy and legal teams need a system that seamlessly:
- Provides alerts for notification deadlines, format, and content requirements.
- Creates and manages notification letters, using pre-approved templates and leveraging automation to fill in any required incident data.
- Acts as a central repository of all notifications to prove compliance.
Additionally, keep up-to-date contact information for regulators and authorities in a central location, and track notification deadlines and response progress once notifications have been sent.
Reporting and Trend Analysis
Creating a strong and data-driven culture of compliance requires metrics to help measure the performance of your incident management program. Transparency and the ability to monitor the results in real-time are key to assessing the success of your program – and the gaps that can lead to more risks. These metrics should highlight your progress and help convey your ongoing needs as an important aspect of communicating and reporting to your executive leadership and Board.
RADAR’s real-time trend analysis and highly customizable reporting capabilities coupled with incident response benchmark data offers organizations the unique ability to measure themselves against industry best practices in incident response.
Keeping Current with Changing Regulations
All organizations with global operations struggle to keep up with the changing patchwork of data breach laws. Some use law firms to periodically update a complex law matrix, while others may use internal resources. These tactics each present risk to an organization, as a global law matrix is too complex to track and can be quickly outdated. This approach does not offer any more operational value than a data breach law library because it is heavily reliant on manual analysis and introduces inherent subjectivity when used to support the incident response process.
RADAR ensures access to up-to-date global data breach notification regulations, industry-specific regulations, and proposed or pending regulatory watchlists, going further than these other solutions by harnessing automation to operationalize the process, for compliance with new laws and any changes to existing laws. RADAR’s regulatory research and analysis methodology is built on over a decade of experience, working with our client’s legal teams and several global law firms that depend on RADAR’s industry-leading incident response platform.
Consistent, Streamlined, Simple: Technology and Breach Response
The world privacy professionals operate in has certainly changed over the years. When RADAR was still just an idea I was juggling around in my mind, the scope of privacy concerns was much more narrow relative to todays’ environment.
By harnessing the power of the RADAR platform, organizations are able to enforce a consistent risk assessment and defensible notification decision-making approach to every privacy incident. With RADAR as a central solution to act as the system of record for multiple stakeholders and as a mechanism to automatically gather data critical to uniformly manage data breach risks across global operations.
Now more than ever, purpose-built technology is able to bring innovation to privacy programs. Intelligent, automated solutions help privacy and legal professionals by providing strong decision-support capabilities in order to manage mounting regulatory complexities at a global level.