5 Data Spill Management Tactics

By Sydney Wess / 2 November 2021

A data spill is a significant threat to both company and personal data security and safety. Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for stealthy ways to obtain your data and information. Companies should start employing data spill management tactics to recover from breaches and losses properly.

It doesn’t take much for a data spill to be detrimental. Even if you only lose basic information, your company and its customers may be at risk of severe consequences such as identity theft.  

Data spills can happen even if your system seems secure. In your day-to-day work, you may be less likely to notice a vulnerability until it’s too late. 

Data spill management strategies can be used to respond to a breach but are also good for companies to understand from a preventative standpoint. Businesses can take the following steps to handle a data spill properly and minimize ramifications: 

  1. Find the source of the data spill
  2. Create a team to determine the impact of the leak
  3. Secure the data spill
  4. Address any lost information 
  5. Review your cybersecurity protocol and systems & adjust your operations for increased protection 

Companies that follow best practices for data breaches will find that they can manage data spills more efficiently.

1. Determine the Source of the Data Spill

The first step in learning more about a data breach and its effect on your business is identifying where the spill is coming from. 

Depending on where the spill occurred, hackers and cybercriminals can obtain all sorts of information. While some may be more sensitive than others, it’s best for you and your company if all types of information can be as secure as possible. 

Experts recommend checking up on the most common ways data breaches happen to begin with. These include:

  • Criminal hacking
  • Internal human error
  • Social engineering
  • Malware 

To find the source of the data spill, you’ll want to determine whether or not the information was lost due to internal human error. It’s common for workers without proper training to fall victim to phishing, malware, and threats on social or mobile devices.   

Knowing where data spills commonly come from should help your team figure out the source of your data loss when it occurs. 

2. Assign a Team To Assess the Impact

After discovering where data was leaked, it’s essential to determine the impact of the lost data as quickly as possible. 

Depending on where the data was lost and what type of information was stored there, different data types can be lost in a data spill. 

These types of data can include:

  • Sensitive company information
  • Employee data
  • Personal customer information
  • Passwords
  • Financial data and credit card information

The consequences of leaking each information type vary, so it’s important to diagnose the problem early. Depending on your internal resources, this should be taken care of by a competent internal team or a top IT firm at this stage of the process. 

Once you have a task force assigned to the project, have them audit your systems to determine the significance of the data spill for your team. This will clue you in to how much information was jeopardized and whether or not customer information was put at risk.  

Assessing the impact of a data spill is the only way to know how to proceed with correcting the issue. 

3. Secure the Data Spill

After you’ve learned which data has been exposed due to a data spill, you must secure your IT systems as soon as you can. 

There are several precautions that you can take to ensure that your data spill gets secured. For instance, if employee passwords were leaked, you may want to have your internal team update their passwords to keep any cybercriminals out of your system.

password management system for data spill prevention
Source: Passwork

You may even want to consider implementing a password management system to further avoid any human error that may put company data at risk. 

Secondly, it’s essential to secure any servers, computers, or machines involved in the leak. Data spills can impact any machine connected to the affected network, so it’s critical to establish security measures following a breach. 

Mainly, you’ll want to make sure that you create protections from similar attacks within your system to prevent this from happening again down the line. 

Additionally, when you can identify the machines attached to the data leak, you may want to disable their connection to the rest of your network. At the same time, you work on security protocol for the rest of your systems. This will keep you from losing any more data while your team addresses impact, security, or loss. 

Securing the data spill or leak is vital to the continued strength of your data safety practices. 

4. Deal with Lost Data

After your team has determined the impact of the spill and secured your systems from further damage, it’s time to deal with any data that’s been lost. 

At this point, you should have a good idea of what was leaked in the attack. Now that you know this, it’s time to communicate with stakeholders about what information has been affected and implement any available recovery plans to save anything that’s become lost or inaccessible.

Communication may involve an internal or external email, depending on whose data was impacted. This message may prompt employees or customers to change their passwords or other login information to protect themselves from cyber attacks. It may also provide some insight on what type of information was exposed. 

In addition, your team should begin data recovery efforts at this time. For instance, if the cybersecurity attack involved ransomware, your staff may be tasked with running an anti-ransomware program in the affected machine. 

Addressing a data spill with your employees and customers is never a comfortable experience. However, it’s important to do so to maintain transparency and open communication between parties. 

Stakeholders will appreciate your honesty and commitment to keeping everyone safe in digital spaces. 

5. Review Your Current Security Measures & Adapt

After your team has effectively addressed and communicated about the data leak, you can begin to look toward the future. 

In this case, that should entail an audit and review of your cybersecurity operations followed by strategic adjustments to reflect what you learned from your data spill experience. 

To start, request that your team or an outsourced IT consultant examine your current systems and the occurrences during the data spill. As a result of their audit, they should provide and identify vulnerabilities within your system to address. 

To move on from this security breach completely, you should work to implement what your team recommends. Adapting your system for maximum protection will prevent cybersecurity challenges in the future.   

Learn From Your Data Spill By Making Meaningful Changes

Encountering a data spill is never a straightforward situation for companies — no data breach is the same. For this reason, following recommended data management tactics will only provide you with a general outline of how to handle challenges resulting from data leaks. 

Regardless of the type of cybersecurity attack, your time will need to find the source and the significance of the spill before securing and adapting your operations to meet a higher standard. Data protection is critical, and regularly auditing your systems will help to stop data spills before they ever happen.

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