The Rules of Breach Disclosure

by adam on September 7, 2011

There’s an interesting article over at CIO Insight:

The disclosure of an email-only data theft may have changed the rules of the game forever. A number of substantial companies may have inadvertently taken legislating out of the hands of the federal and state governments. New industry pressure will be applied going forward for the loss of fairly innocuous data. This change in practice has the potential to affect every CIO who collects “contact” information from consumers, maybe even from employees in an otherwise purely commercial context. (“Breach Notification: Time for a Wake Up Call“, Mark McCreary of Fox Rothschild LLP)

My perspective is that breach disclosure now hurts far less than it did a mere five years ago, and spending substantial time on analysis of “do we disclose” is returning less and less value. As companies disclose, we’re getting more and more data that CIOs can use to improve IT operations. We can, in a very real way, start to learn from each other’s mistakes.

Over the next few years, this perspective will trickle both upwards and downwards. CEOs will be confused by the desire to hide a breach, knowing that the coverup can be worse than the crime. And security professionals will be less and less able to keep saying that one breach can destroy your company in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

As the understanding spreads, so will data. We’ll see an explosion of ways to talk about issues, ways to report on them and analyze them. In a few years, we’ll see an article titled “Breach Analysis: Read it with your coffee” because daily analysis of breaches will be part of a CIO’s job.

Thanks to the Office of Inadequate Security for the pointer.

One comment

That “coffee reading” will be all the more likely now that California has centralized reporting for (some) breaches, and mandated notification letter contents.

Certainly, these are modest steps at best, but CA is a pretty populous state. I’m hopeful the quantity of useful information flowing from this will be significant, as it has been in the case of NY, for example.

by Chris on September 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm. Reply #

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