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Data Breach

A Data Breach refers to an incident that causes the loss, alteration, illegal or unauthorized destruction of, disclosure of, or unauthorized access to personal information that is processed, stored, transmitted or collected by an organization.

For example, a data breach could occur when an employee at a company accidentally emails a spreadsheet of customer contact details to a colleague without properly securing the file. Or a data breach could occur when hackers hack into a system and steal data.

Some attackers want to make money by selling stolen personal information on the dark web, or using it for other fraudulent activities. Others work for governments and spy on rival nations. Regardless of motivation, the cost of data breaches can be staggering. In addition to fines and damages, data breaches can damage an organization’s reputation, which may take years to rebuild.

When a breach occurs, companies must inform consumers and affected parties. They also have to determine their legal obligations and responsibilities. This can include a requirement to notify state attorneys general.

The best practice is to have a data breach plan in place that addresses how an organization will communicate with consumers. This should include how they will answer frequently asked questions. This can help avoid phishing scams that target consumers, and it can help victims take the steps they need to protect themselves. For example, if a company has a breach involving names and Social Security numbers, it would be helpful to advise people to contact the credit bureaus so they can monitor their accounts for suspicious activity.