Data Incident Response Guide: What to Do if Your Financial Institution Experiences a Data Incident

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Your cybersecurity nightmare has happened and your data is in the hands of criminals. Now what? You want to fix the problem as soon as you can, avoid expensive downtime, and protect your customers’ private data.

How you respond to a data incident is critical. Your response time, communication practices, and remediation strategy will have an impact on the security of your customers’ data as well as the reputation of your business.

Before you experience a data incident you will want to make sure that your financial institution has a response plan in place. Here are steps that you will need to include in your data incident response plan so that your bank can get back to business as quickly as possible.

1. Notify Your IT Service Provider or In-House IT Team to Secure Your Systems

It is important to move quickly to fix the vulnerabilities that have caused the data incident. Your IT team should be able to assess the damage and take appropriate steps to mitigate the problem. This includes disabling user accounts, reviewing network access logs, and implementing security patches.

If you don’t have outsourced IT or any help in-house, you should hire a specialist to help with your data incident response. With the help of an IT expert working on the problem, you’ll be able to quickly get your systems back up and running. You would go to the doctor if you experienced a heart attack, wouldn’t you? A data incident can mean the end of your business without the right data incident response.

2. Identify the Source of the Incident

You need to identify what caused the incident. Was it an employee? A malicious actor? An internal system failure? It’s most likely that you or an employee played some part in the incident because several studies put the role of human error between 88% and 95%. Knowing the source can help you determine the extent of the damage and what steps you need to take to prevent similar incidents in the future.

3. Access Your Backups

To avoid expensive downtime, get into your backups and see if any damage has been done. By restoring your offsite data, you and your employees can continue to serve customers and run your business. That is why having a backup and recovery solution is so important.

4. Notify Appropriate Parties

When it comes to a data incident in a financial institution there are a variety of different laws and regulations that indicate who needs to be contacted and when. Check state and federal laws to ensure you are meeting your legal requirements. 

You will usually need to notify law enforcement, stakeholders such as customers, partners, investors, and regulators about the incident. This is a critical step, as it allows you to demonstrate transparency and accountability. It also helps you keep customers informed about what happened and how they can protect themselves from identity theft.

Sharing security-related information with other banks and the FDIC is highly encouraged. No matter what steps you take in your data incident response, it’s essential that you keep an open line of communication with all stakeholders throughout the process. Doing so will help ensure that everyone is aware of the situation and can work together to mitigate the damage. 

5. Establish an Effective Recovery Plan

Once all of the above steps are completed, you need to lay out an effective recovery plan that outlines the steps you’ll take to remediate the problem and prevent future data incidents. 

This plan should include implementing new security measures, improving employee training on cybersecurity best practices, conducting an audit of your systems, and creating a comprehensive communication strategy.

Keep in mind that some of these steps may change depending on the type of incident you’ve experienced. If a hacker is holding your information for ransom, you’ll need to decide what is the best course of action. If your data has been leaked, you’ll need to alert customers and provide them with steps they can take to protect themselves.

Employees should know and understand the incident response plan. Along with this, there should be an avenue available that allows them to report suspicious activities. 

Don’t wait until it’s too late—start preparing today!

The Quickest Way to Recover? Having a Detailed Incident Response Plan in Place

Having a step-by-step incident response plan in place is an essential way to prepare for and respond to a data incident. That includes outlining the steps you’ll take, who will be responsible for each task, and the timeline for completion. This can help ensure that you have everything mapped out and ready to go in case of an emergency.

RESULTS Technology is experienced in the financial industry and can help you with your incident response plan. We can also help you with the FDIC Cybersecurity Assessment Tool. By partnering with our team, you can ensure your systems are secure and regularly monitored to detect threats before they cause damage. 

Contact our team today to learn how we can help your financial institution protect against a data incident.