In the aftereffect of a data infringement, the principal dilemma that every organization, who has experienced one, is whether they have to be completely open with their consumers. To understand the relevance and virtues of being transparent with your customers, companies need to realize that being transparent with their consumers in the event of a data breach can go a long way in rebuilding trust. Unfortunately, most organizations are hesitant in doing so. Instead, they are learning the hard way that in the absence of an adequate amount of data at their disposal, following an infringement, they are unable to communicate with their customers. And whether the affected business has been in the dark, throughout the incident, their customers may be at the highest risk by being uninformed.
How to achieve transparency after a data breach
Here is some valuable advice to help organizations battling with the problem of addressing their customers at the time of a data breach. It can help to keep these data points in mind and ensure the right communication is sent out.
- Time of the event: Timing is an area that many organizations find themselves in trouble. The longer a company takes to discover and detect a data breach, the worse matters can get. Not only does a postponed reaction cause customers anxiety – especially those whose data has been compromised for an extended period – it also prevents the company from fixing the problem at the right time. It is critical to alert customers of any suspicious activity, as the faster you reach out to them, the quicker they can safeguard themselves and their data. Besides, it can also reveal the customers’ confidence in the organization’s ability to avoid similar such incidents from taking place.
- Source of the breach: How did the data breach take place? Where did it originate? Who was responsible for the incident? Without offering information to your customers regarding the source of the breach, they may become sceptical of your abilities in solving the conflict. A simple statement that mentions “we are looking into the matter” is no longer adequate; customers today demand precise details, and hence you may want to prepare a transparent line of communication with them.
- Compromised information: What files were breached? What kinds of information was compromised? Was it just login IDs and passwords, or did it also include financial credentials such as credit card information, account numbers, Social Security numbers and more? In some cases, a data breach that has taken place may not result in any information being stolen or compromised. However, if you are not aware of the situation or do not have in-depth information on the data breach, it can be foolhardy to communicate to your users about the specifics of the problem, who in turn are likely to expect the worst.
- Affected individuals: Sometimes, a data infringement may not necessarily impact every individual in a company’s database. In some cases – such as in retail data breaches, for example – it may be those customers who bought items during a specific period. To avoid unnecessary alarm where none is required, it is crucial for companies to realize the exact segment of the users impacted in a data breach.
- Resolution: Make sure your consumers know that you are doing everything in your power to understand the source of the breach so as to mitigate any chances of it occurring again. Some companies that have experienced a data infringement offer a year of credit monitoring that can help to take out the pain of being compromised.
In many cases, it has been seen that consumers’ personal and financial data that had been hacked during a data breach was wrapped up by companies without revealing what went wrong. Such companies argue that data must stay hidden because it could encourage other cybercriminals from launching similar attacks on other companies. But given the increasing pressure to release details to consumers on how hackers are able to infiltrate their systems and networks and steal classified data, corporations are now compelled to inform their consumers about the issues.
Understandably, it is not easy for organizations to come out in the open for fear of grave consequences. But to ensure that customers are safeguarded and to re-establish trust with them, it is imperative. By being open and honest, companies can significantly cut down negativity and help rebuild trust slowly.
Providing document protection with DRM
Since data and document security is a journey and not the destination, having sound document security software in place such as digital rights management and striving for continuous improvement can ensure that you are taking the right steps in improving your security posture. For example, making sure that confidential and sensitive documents are encrypted and are locked to devices can help ensure consumers that you are adequately protecting documents and data. Having document retention policies in place such as making PDF files expire on a fixed date or after a certain period of time can also be useful to prevent old data being accessed. And using DRM for secure external document sharing can help prevent sensitive or confidential documents and information falling into the wrong hands.
Building trust takes time, and hence employing the proper methods as stated above can help in accumulating it among your customers.