The GDPR Disclosure Conundrum

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Enterprises haven’t always been particularly transparent or timely in disclosing their data breaches. This type of behavior bred significant consumer distrust and was one of the key data security provisions within the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

According to GDPR regulations, companies must “notify personal data breaches likely to present a risk to without undue delay, and within 72 hours if feasible, after becoming aware of the breach.” It’s a clear win for consumers whose data may have been stolen for months before they were notified.

However, the new rules imposed by the EU can be particularly challenging for organizations to disclose a breach within such a tight a timeframe. Is 72 hours of discovery a realistic timeframe to accurately assess the breach, affected data and communicate the situation effectively to the public? Most businesses would say that it’s not.

Most organizations have only a vague idea of where all their data is stored, which makes assessing and disclosing the harm of the breach extremely difficult. If they unveil a breach too early, businesses risk assessing the situation inaccurately, which means they will have to issue an update, extend a negative news cycle, and further damage their company’s reputation. This leaves business, security and IT leaders with a lose-lose situation: either they disclose on time and run the risk of getting it wrong or conduct thorough due diligence to get it right and pay a hefty fine.

Businesses can avoid this situation by aligning their policies and technology. When a data breach transpires, companies should be honest, empathetic and timely, to ultimately maintain their customers’ digital trust.

Not all companies refuse the release of a disclosure for nefarious reasons: they may simply not know they’ve been breached, or it may take a while to determine the scope of the exposure. 

Businesses leverage tools and policies to build transparency to understand where their data is located, providing visibility into cloud infrastructure to streamline the discovery process. Continuous monitoring is the most reliable method of identifying and tracking users who are accessing data on company systems.

Whether you’re on the lookout for an unauthorized employee viewing confidential patient data, or a malicious outsider trying to steal cardholder data, monitoring is vital for a strong security posture. Simply monitoring your infrastructure could help in identifying and disclosing a breach quickly.

Before implementing monitoring tools, it is helpful to perform a full security configuration audit to see the true state of your network and its security to eventually improve cloud infrastructure security posture.

Visibility is incredibly helpful in allowing businesses to move quickly and efficiently during a breach disclosure assessment. A best practice would be to centrally collect and view data from all environments, comprehensively leveraging the visibility tool to detect, deny, and disrupt threats. If you choose to use a visibility tool, ensure it has host-based, behavioral detection to give you complete wide spread visibility into your environment.

Implementing a security strategy that incorporates real-time vulnerability monitoring, threat intelligence correlation, intrusion detection and full visibility, enables an organization to become secure by design. Meaning a company can go from four hours to four minutes in terms of detection and knowledge about a security event. That alone can drive massive cuts in time-to-detection, enabling the issue of data breach disclosure to be quick and correct.

From monitoring file activity and user activity, to automatically patching vulnerabilities and scanning configurations, security is ingrained within the correct infrastructure and appropriate tools. 

The overall goal of GDPR is to ensure the data privacy of all EU citizens and reshape the way organizations approach data privacy and security. Enabling continuous monitoring and complete visibility into your company infrastructure is a way organizations can meet the challenge of assessing, disclosing and even possibly preventing a breach within the 72-hour window.

While there are challenges to GDPR compliance, there are also opportunities to significantly upgrade security infrastructure and create visibility and control over the data in corporate systems as well as the opportunity to build greater trust with your customers.

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