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Hoping for the best — Preparing for the worst: the low down on an Incidence Response Plan

Business continuity relates to functions that are necessary for the day-to-day operation of a business. It encompasses basics like ongoing system backups, updates and upgrades so that businesses can keep going smoothly for all people involved — such as, retailers, suppliers, customers, plus several other entities. Preparing for Data security, disaster, or recovery from a breach, are generally not functions of business continuity and they should absolutely be. 

PCI compliance standards and data security are precautions that should be incorporated into every card-processing organization’s business continuity plan.  It is critical for companies of every industry and size to recognize them as part of everyday processes because it is the most effective way to prevent a data breach from occurring.

Creating your game plan
Ongoing compliance and data security should be part of a business continuity plan and cannot be implemented in the midst of a crisis.  They are for merchants to implement as a preventative measure before a breach ever occurs.  Part of this measure should be to develop an Incidence Response Plan (IRP) so that if a data breach occurs the problem can be remediated quickly and successfully.  When developing an IRP, merchants should consider:

1.      Who or which departments will be delegated what responsibilities during a breach?
2.      How will a breach be contained and controlled?
3.      Who needs to be notified (customers, acquiring banks, card processors, law enforcement, etc.)?
4.      How will they be notified?
5.      What are the regulatory, state and federal mandates that apply to your business if your location is breached?
6.      What types of threats might your organization encounter?  What is the best way to handle each type of threat?
7.      What types of tools will you need to contain, control and conquer a data breach?

Find a home for your most confidential information.  It would be worthless if the IRP is on an employee’s computer or on the server. Also, most companies will have corporate proprietary information along with personal information and logins on that IRP. If that information is also not accessible to you when you need it, keeping some of the secure information at an off-site is highly recommended.

While planning goes a long way, breaches still happen and merchants often find that a data breach is easier to handle on paper. After you develop a comprehensive plan for your organization, it is crucial that you put it to the test.  Playing out various scenarios could help with the remediation process when a real breach occurs, allowing you to recognize and resolve issues that come up prior to an incident.

Tackling an actual breach

Keep the following tips in mind when tackling a breach:

Stay organized.  Make sure that each department understands what their responsibilities are in the event of a breach, and keep each department on task.  One of the most important ways to maintain an organization is through communication so ensure that each department has a way to keep in contact during the remediation process.  Also keep current records as the breach is being handled so that the documents will be on hand for legal purposes as well as your own. Have a list of who is doing what and enact them just as if an incident has occurred.  You may be able to discover new needs and reactions to those situations and update your IRP document.

Document effectively. Your documents should be detailed, but not overflowing with unnecessary information. Keep it short and to the point, noting facts like what was recovered during a breach, when it was recovered and how the incident was handled.

Don’t rush.  Resolving a breach can be particularly frustrating because it requires a lot of time and analysis that interfere with normal operations.  But by taking your time and completing a thorough investigation you can avoid overlooking serious issues that can cause further complications and delay.

Don’t go it alone.  Since no two breaches are the same, the challenges that occur during a data breach vary and merchants are encouraged to seek help before a breach becomes unmanageable.  Moving forward in remediating a breach without the necessary knowledge or resources can lead to increased costs.  Putting your customers’ personal data and your business on the line is never worth the risk.

Who are you going to call?
A data breach is not only overwhelming—it can be the devastating final blow for a merchant.  Partnering with an experienced compliance solutions company, like Omega, can help merchants to better protect themselves against intentional and accidental intrusions, reducing the likelihood of a breach.  In the event that a breach does occur, having a reliable partner to provide guidance and support eases the burden on merchants and increases the likelihood of quicker recovery after a breach.

Are you feeling safe?
If yes, visit our website to expand your knowledge on data security and ongoing compliance. If you have even the slightest doubt, we can help you. Contact pci@omegasecure.comor call 636-557-7777 to help your retail, restaurant or store network environment become and stay compliant. Listen to these interesting customer stories and testimonials.