Crucial Steps in a Data Breach Response Plan for Financial Organizations

Banks and other financial institutions handle some of the most sensitive parts of an individual’s life. We hope that our information is safe with these organizations, but unfortunately, breaches happen far too often. In fact, 62% of breached data came from financial services in 2019.

And companies in the financial services sector can suffer dramatically if a breach occurs. So, what should banks and other organizations do in the aftermath of a data breach? 

There are a few steps these organizations should include in their data breach response plan to mitigate damage and retain customers. Let’s get started!

Protecting Banks From Cyber Attacks

Data breach response plans will help financial institutions find their footing after a data breach, but banks should also have measures in place to prevent cyber attacks and breaches in the first place.

To do this, leaders and decision-makers need to understand and implement strict cybersecurity policies throughout the organization. This includes safeguards like password policies. Put together a formal password guide, informing employees what types of passwords are the strongest, setting password expiration dates, and requiring the use of multi-factor authentication. Even just this small step can add a level of protection to your organization.

You’ll also want to ensure your organization is utilizing a firewall and other cybersecurity solutions. One thing that organizations often overlook in regards to securing their data is mobile devices. Many financial services companies use laptops, tablets, and smartphones for their employees. If these devices contain company information and are not protected, you are basically opening a door for hackers to get in.  

To give your business the best chance at preventing data breaches, you will need to do an entire risk assessment, determining the best cybersecurity solutions for you. If you don’t have internal IT resources to provide this assessment, you can always reach out to a cybersecurity provider and have them help you. Here at Executech, we offer free assessments for this very situation!

Putting Together a Data Breach Response Plan

No matter what cybersecurity measures you have in place, if you experience a data breach, you’ll want to have a response plan ready to go. Having a previously prepared plan of action will help you get back up and running as quickly as possible.

So, when you are trying to create your data breach response plan, what are a few things you should make sure are included? We’re going to go through a few of them right now. 

1. Assess the Situation

Following a breach, the first step organizations should take is to evaluate their systems and identify the stolen data. Many businesses want to spring into action immediately. However, you first must identify the security vulnerabilities that led to your systems becoming compromised.

Then, determine what information the criminal made off with. Was it financial information? Or was it more personal type information like names and addresses? The type of data exposed will help you figure out how serious the breach was and what other steps need to be taken.

2. Comply with Legal Obligations

There are a variety of different laws regulating data breaches — both on the state and federal level. These regulations will dictate the timeline in which you must notify customers and what information the notification requires. It also may dictate which authorities you must alert to the breach. 

Depending on where your business operates, you will need to determine what legal obligations you must meet. If you fail to comply with any laws, you will most likely have to pay a hefty price. 

3. Prevent Further Unauthorized Access

As recommended in step one, after you have evaluated your network and systems, you’ll want to ensure any remaining vulnerabilities are quickly patched and secured. For example, if a hacker got to your data from an exposed mobile device, you’ll need to implement solutions so that that access point is no longer open. 

You’ll likely want to call in the help of security experts at this point to ensure your organization is secure. 

4. Notify Your Customers

One of the most important pieces of a data breach response plan involves keeping your customers in the loop. This can help you regain your clients’ trust and minimize lost business.

A data breach can easily impact your customers’ confidence in your organization. But, being upfront and transparent with them can make a big difference in keeping them around. 

You might have already have a legal obligation to inform your customers of the breach within a specified window of time. Whether this is the case or not, we recommend communicating with your customers sooner rather than later. 

Notify them of what data was affected by the breach, who they can reach out to for more information, and what steps you are taking to secure your systems and their data. 

5. Continually Monitor and Update Your Security

Lastly, your data breach response plan should also include continual security monitoring. This way, you can help ensure your organization won’t be hit again. 

New types of cyber attacks are always emerging, and older forms evolve. To stay on top of your cybersecurity landscape and keep your organization protected, you have to say updated on the newest forms of threats. 

To do this, you might consider hiring a managed service provider that will manage and improve your cybersecurity. If you choose this option, you will be able to keep focusing on your core business and leave the security up to the experts. 


Cybersecurity cannot be underestimated in the financial services industry. Any bank, credit union, or other institution needs to be preparing and protecting their organization. And if a breach does happen, they need to be ready with a response plan.

A response plan will give a company an outline of the steps they should be taking — reducing stress and panic within the organization. Even more, it will help ensure that a business does not miss any crucial steps in recovery. 

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