Data Breach Notifications: How, What, When, and Why


It is every company’s worst nightmare; A hacker has managed to breach its web servers and how has access to the company’s customers’ personal and financial information.

While it is obviously ethical to notify one’s customer when his/her information has been stolen, many States have enacted laws, which legally mandate that businesses communicate breaches in data communications. Naturally, a business may hesitate if it experiences a data breach, especially if the breach affects a large number of people. Still, the intuition to withhold information is counterproductive and will undoubtedly cause more harm than good.  It is not uncommon for companies with sufficiently significant harm to their brand to sell their company all together and just start over.

If your website and/or servers have been breached, you must notify your community of users and providers; neglecting to provide notification to your users may result robust and severe legal penalties and fines. As part of any comprehensive security plant, it is important to evaluate data breach notification laws in your particular State and even city and adapt your policies accordingly. By developing a data breach notification plan, you can save your business’s reputation and avoid paying out large penalties.

What Qualifies as a Breach in Security?

It is first important to define and understand the term,“data breach” and consider how it may occur.  On the most fundamental level, a Data Breach is simply any security incident where data is accessed without authorization. Data Breaches at the level of a company’s website directly or through more sophisticated attacks on the server/s which host the website.  Common ways in which data breaches occur include weak password selections, improper security configurations, vulnerabilities in the code resulting in Back Door options, and generic Malware.

What a Breach in Security Can Cost a Company

A data breach can cost a company potentially millions of dollars, both in lost users who have since terminated their relationship with the given company AND in legal penalties and fines. Cyber-attack scan and should be considered a serious concern for just about any type of business that operates a digital platform or manages user info with digital products.21st century-businesses must focus on preventing data breaches inside and outside their companies by continuously conducting due diligence on security systems in place to safeguard user information.

Personal information, such as credit card numbers, contact names, and social security numbers, are among the most common forms of data along with personal financial information.

Why Data Breaches Happen

Cybercrime is profitable, efficient, and “fast”, as competent attackers can seize a large amount of information quickly and inconspicuously. Target attacks can happen for the following reasons:

  • The cyber-attacker finds a hole in out-of-date software so he or she can slip malware into the program. This makes it simple for the thief to extract personal and financial details.
  • A hacker can either guess an insecure/weak password OR “hard-crunch” password possibilities. This is especially easy to do if the password consists of a simple phrase or word. Data security experts therefore advise passwords to be complicated and unique to avoid breaches in data security.
  • Cyber criminals also can perform a “drive-by download” of a virus by visiting an out-of-date web page, or a site that has an older operating system or browser. Older software very often has antiquated coding structures that are not sufficiently modern to deal with contemporary coding problems.
  • Finally, attackers may use phishing emails and spam-messaging to trick the user into providing their personal details or downloading malware attachments. An email is an easy vehicle for a cyber-criminal to use to download a malware onto your computer.That is why you should never open links from an unknown source.

What Is a Data Breach Notification Plan?

Unfortunately, even the best security mechanism may fall and a data breach may occur. That is why you need to create, for good measure, a data breach notification plan. This plan helps you initiate the tasks you need to follow if a data breach happens in your company.

What You Should Include in Your Data Breach Plan and Outline

The following information should be included in your data breach notification plan and outline.

  • A designated “data officer” with a special email account to manage and notify web users and clients of the breach
  • The contact information for businesses and agencies that must be notified
  • Clear representations of the user data on file, how and why it is protected, and what, as a legal matter would qualify as a “data breach”.
  • An guide which designates, on a strategic and technical level, when a breach has occurred and who may be responsible.
  • A timeline for meeting the milestones required by law.
  • A step-by-step outline to guide your business to meet each task during reporting.
  • A summation of the disciplinary action your company will take toward anyone who violates the rules of the data breach notification plan.
  • Information about the security measures currently in place.
  • An explanation of any prior data breaches and what was learned from the incident(s).

Without a data breach notification plan in place, you cannot respond to the event in a timely and efficient manner. Remember, with Data Breaches, transparency and timeliness is critical. Business owners must make every effort to comply with both State and Federal.Because data breach and privacy laws get updated all the time, it is important to stay current with evolving legislation and technical developments.


  1. A data breach occurs when sensitive personal information is acquired or used without authorization, posing a significant risk of identity theft or fraud.

    Data breaches can occur as a result of criminal cyber-activity, such as hacking or ransomware, or as a result of human error, such as sending information to the wrong person via email.


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