The Breach Disclosure Double StandardThe Breach Disclosure Double Standard
Cybersecurity pros expect to be notified immediately when they're breached, but most don't do the same – and some even cover up breaches.
June 5, 2018
For many cybersecurity professionals, swift breach disclosure is a matter of do as I say, not as I do. A new survey out today from Thycotic shows a big double standard exists between how quickly security pros expect their vendors and partners to disclose breaches and how fast they themselves tell others about security incidents.
Conducted across the IT security community convened at RSA Conference earlier this spring, the survey shows that 84% of respondents say they want to be notified immediately if a company they've worked with has experienced a breach. Yet at the same time, just 37% of these people say they would extend the same courtesy of notifying customers expeditiously in the event that their firms were breached.
A big part of this may well be that companies don't have the capability for swift disclosure due to insufficient preparation on the incident response front. Only a little over half of the respondents say they have a tested incident response plan in place, while just one in five say they've prepared a contact list and communications plan to manage an incident. What's more, just one in ten organizations say they have a public relations and legal team prepped and ready to manage security incident communications should they be breached.
This lack of preparation is putting global organizations under considerable regulatory risk now that the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has gone live. One of the key requirements of GDPR is that organizations be ready to publicly disclose breaches that affect European residents' data within 72 hours. A recent study by Enterprise Strategy Group shows that only 33% of organizations are ready to meet this mandate.
The high prevalence of companies unable to quickly detect breaches, let alone swiftly notify victims, is troubling enough. But perhaps even more disconcerting is how many organizations go out of their way to actively hide incidents from being disclosed.
Indeed, almost one in six respondents admit they've kept data breaches secret from the public or unsuspecting victims, according to Thycotic's study. These kind of numbers aren't a new revelation. Back in 2015, a different survey at that year's RSA Conference, from AlienVault, found that 20% of respondents have at the very least witnessed their companies trying to hide or cover up a breach.
What's new now, though, is the level of public furor kicked up following the egregious under-the-carpet sweeping behavior at Uber following its massive breach of 57 million people's data. As the embarrassing details kept unfolding, it came out that the ride-share company paid an attacker $100,000 from a bug bounty program that usually only paid out a fraction of that per bug to cover up the breach.
It's this kind of lack of accountability that's pushing regulators to stiffen the consequences for organizations that fail to quickly notify affected parties after a breach. Not only is the big hammer of GDPR hovering over global organizations, but US regulators also are making noises. US legislators are now toying with the idea of sentencing executives with jail time for not disclosing data breaches.
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