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Suffered a Data Breach? Report it Proactively to Avoid Higher Fines 

10 October 2023

We’ve witnessed how businesses, in a bid to shield their reputations, are often reluctant to report data breaches. A joint blog post by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) notes that this reluctance ends up emboldening cybercriminals.

The more these violations go undisclosed, the more successful the cybercriminals become, which increases the frequency of attacks. To tackle this menacing cycle, the UK’s regulatory powers have come to an understanding that will incentivise British businesses to come clean about data breaches.

According to a recently signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the ICO and the NCSC, businesses might find relief in lower fines, but only if they report breaches proactively.

Read on to understand the nuances of this new agreement and the proactive changes you could make to prevent data breaches from happening to your business.

What’s the New MOU About?

On September 12, 2023, the CEO of the NCSC, Lindy Cameron, and the Information Commissioner, John Edwards, formalised their collaborative intent through the signing of a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This pivotal document articulates the mutual cooperation between these two authoritative bodies in their shared ambition to bolster the UK’s digital resilience.

While both entities maintain their individual responsibilities, the MoU highlights the avenues wherein their work can converge, addressing shared concerns and eliminating potential conflicts. Central to this collaboration is a shared focus on the creation and enhancement of cyber security standards, guidance formulation, and ushering in advancements in the cyber protections of organisations under the jurisdiction of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Commissioner John Edwards emphasised their ongoing collaboration and the objective of this new agreement, stating:

 “We already work closely with the NCSC to offer the right tools, advice, and support to businesses and organisations on how to improve their cyber security and stay secure. This Memorandum of Understanding reaffirms our commitment to improve the UK’s cyber resilience so people’s information is kept safe online from cyber attacks.”

A standout provision in the MOU ushers businesses towards greater transparency regarding cyberattacks. The provision details how the Commissioner intends to champion interaction with the NCSC, especially acknowledging organisations that responsibly report significant cyber incidents and actively collaborate with the NCSC. In the provision, the ICO also commits to exploring how it can transparently demonstrate to businesses that meaningful interactions with the NCSC could subsequently lead to lower regulatory penalties.

This provision signals a paradigm shift in how businesses approach and manage cyber incidents. By proactively engaging with the NCSC during cyber breaches, your organisations can expect not only guidance and support but also potential leniency in regulatory repercussions.

Proactive Measures to Safeguard Your Business Against Data Breaches

The GOV.UK’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2023 unveiled a stark reality: the most disruptive breach over the past year set businesses back by an average of £1,100, regardless of size. For medium and large enterprises, this figure surged to approximately £4,960.

Given these alarming numbers, the imperative for rigorous security measures has never been clearer. 

Below, we take a look at the different methods that ICT Solutions employs to ensure appropriate security infrastructure is robustly in place for your business:

Use Anti-Spam Software

The digital frontier is rife with threats, and chief among them are deceptive spam emails. These innocuous-looking messages can be laced with malware or lead to phishing sites aiming to extract sensitive information.

Anti-spam software acts as a vigilant gatekeeper, scanning and filtering these potential threats before they reach an employee’s inbox. This software detects and blocks harmful emails while adapting to evolving threats, ensuring the company’s communication channels remain uncompromised.

Fortify Your Defences with Advanced Firewalls

In today’s cyber landscape, your business’s data can be under constant threat from relentless hackers and malicious software. Think of advanced firewalls as the impenetrable walls around your digital fortress.

These are designed to scrutinise incoming and outgoing traffic, ensuring only legitimate connections get through. The firewalls intelligently discern between safe and potentially harmful data, blocking any threats in real-time.

Lock Down Your Signals with Secure Wi-Fi

Open and unprotected Wi-Fi is an open invitation to cybercriminals. Securing your Wi-Fi networks ensures that every piece of data transmitted wirelessly is shielded from prying eyes.

Encrypting your Wi-Fi adds a strong layer of protection against unauthorised access and potential data breaches. Alongside encryption, employing strong, frequently changed passwords will further deter intruders.

Deploy Anti-Virus Software

Your business’s digital assets are constantly at risk from viruses and malware. These malicious entities can lurk in seemingly harmless files, eager to compromise your data or sabotage your operations. But there’s a reliable sentinel you can employ: anti-virus software.

Installing top-tier antivirus software protects your systems against these invisible threats. This software continually scans, detects, and neutralises harmful entities, ensuring your business operates smoothly.

Implement a Disaster Recovery Plan

Data breaches, while undesirable, can and do happen. The question isn’t just how to prevent them but also how to rebound when they strike. Crafting a comprehensive disaster recovery plan means you’re always ready to respond.

Designing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan equips your business with a roadmap to navigate and recover from cyber catastrophes. It outlines actionable steps to restore operations, retrieve lost data, and communicate with stakeholders. With a robust disaster recovery strategy, you’re not just bracing for impact but also ensuring a swift and effective comeback.

Prioritise Safe and Regular Data Storage

In the digital age, data is your business’s lifeline. But imagine a scenario where crucial data like customer details or business strategies vanish overnight due to a cyber-attack or system failure. The fallout can be devastating, so you need regular and secure data backups.

Committing to consistent website and data backups creates fail-safe copies of your vital business information. Store these backups in encrypted, secure locations, both on-site and in the cloud. When cyber calamities strike, you won’t be left scrambling; with your backups in place, you can swiftly restore and resume business operations, ensuring minimal disruption and loss.

The Key Takeaway

In the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, proactive measures remain businesses’ most potent defence. The recent MOU signed by the ICO and the NCSC underscores the importance of transparency and active defence against breaches.

From harnessing advanced firewalls to regularly backing up data, every step fortifies your organisation’s digital domain. ICT Solutions can ensure that your business is as protected as possible.

Get in touch with our friendly team today to find out how our cyber security service can give you peace of mind.