Privacy, Compliance or Breach Laws: Indifference Doesn’t Pay Off

Regulatory environments across the globe are changing to enforce data security, with a focus on data breach response. In Australia, there has been widespread press and advice from consulting firms about the need to notify authorities about breaches, specifically the changes to the country's Privacy Act, and in Europe, the new European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force May 25. These pieces of legislation are designed to protect the end-user, your client, from exposure.

If you are an Australian organization and discover you have been breached, the ability to respond and act in accordance with the law is essential. As a starter, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has an excellent guide to help you with local compliance.

I do suspect there are many organizations that have still not considered the impact these laws will have in their organization, particularly GDPR for companies outside the EU. A discussion with Brian Odian, managing consultant of our global compliance and risk services team here in Australia led us to the following simple scenario:

Do you handle the data of EU citizens? Do you sell goods or services to EU customers? How compliant are your third parties? Would you be liable if personal data was exposed by your third parties?

It's complicated, Brian told me. Organizations should carefully evaluate each of their current processes and suppliers to ensure that they will be compliant with the GDPR. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has guidance on how GDPR might apply. To get you started, this Osterman Research report, sponsored by Trustwave - "The Procrastinator's Guide to Preparing for the GDPR" - can help you understand the role of data processors and controllers in the regulation and their responsibilities.

My conversation with Brian brought up further possible complexity for businesses. If you were an Australian organization that was a victim of a breach, and you notified the OAIC of this breach as required by Australian law, you likely need to notify any EU data controllers, or the EU supervisory authorities if an EU citizen's personal data was also affected. There are timelines in which you are required to respond, and you will need to notify those subjects affected. Failing this, the impact to your organization could be a potentially significant fine.

For many organizations, the 'she'll be right' approach will not be enough to respond to incidents or breaches. It's just not that easy. Recently, Australia's chief statistician recognized that reaching out for help can make the difference between success or failure when it comes to cybersecurity exposure. If you are considering this advice, Trustwave SpiderLabs guru Aaron Wooten has described the five main things you should look for in your incidence response (IR) partner: skills and experience, qualifications, research capability, litigation support and global coverage.

I'd suggest looking for a partner that has:

  • Experts that are certified forensic investigators and experienced at collecting the data and evidence you might need to declare.
  • Experience in international incident response and prior experience with litigation, including expert evidence if legal proceedings occur.
  • An approach that helps improve your resiliency by providing an assessment of your current readiness and recommendations for improvement.
  • Services that match your organization's risk profile, based on known best practices.

If you think you've been breached, call out to the experts for help.

Jane Bounds is director of APAC marketing at Trustwave.

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