Continuous Incident Reporting: The New Era of Accountability is Here

Fixed data breach reporting deadlines give way to ongoing post-incident reporting

Cyber threats and data breaches are now daily occurrences, with constant reports of major incidents compromising sensitive customer information. In response, governments worldwide are rapidly enacting new regulations and guidelines to ensure businesses handle cybersecurity incidents appropriately.

One of the most significant shifts is the move from fixed data breach reporting deadlines to continuous updates for regulators. This emerging trend we predicted is allowing regulators to address what they feel are the shortcomings of a traditional single deadline approach and provides greater visibility into cyber threats for policymakers. However, it also creates new challenges for organizations–providing accurate, timely and transparent updates during the chaos of incident response is challenging.

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Regulators Desire More Effective Breach Reporting Models

Many existing cybersecurity regulations have strict timelines for notifying authorities following a data breach, such as 72 hours under GDPR and as short as six hours for India CERT-In. The intent regulators have is to be informed quickly to protect their constituents and to gather intelligence on emerging cyber threats. However, regulators are declaring single deadlines inadequate in practice. Regulators find they gain limited insight into overall impacts and outcomes. And according to policymakers, fixed reporting dates aren’t effectively motivating businesses to prioritize effective incident response programs.

Continuous Updates Provide Ongoing Visibility for Authorities

In response, government authorities are shifting toward continuous reporting models that require multiple updates at regular intervals following an incident. This gives regulators far greater visibility as events unfold, allowing more informed guidance and support. With continuous updates, authorities feel they can better track the full scope and severity of breaches over time. And regulators can use ongoing reporting to determine if incidents warrant a deeper investigation and to potentially alert other organizations at risk.

Major Regulations Driving the Continuous Reporting Trend

Several high-profile regulations are catalyzing this move to continuous reporting for cyber incidents globally:

  • Most recently, the new SEC cybersecurity directives that have taken effect are the most recent example of a regulation requiring continuous updates. 
  • The EU Network and Information Security (NIS2) Directive requires entities in critical infrastructure sectors to provide an initial 24-hour warning, 72-hour incident report, and full details within one month. This staged approach allows quicker awareness and ongoing tracking by regulators.
  • The US Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act (CIRCIA) will likely mandate continuous reporting, though exact requirements are still being defined. The Department of Homeland Security’s CISA unit currently recommends regular updates throughout response.
  • New York’s Department of Financial Services (commonly referred to as NYDFS) recently amended their cybersecurity regulations to require additional reporting requirements after the initial 72 hour notice.

As more regulations evolve to require more transparent and ongoing breach reporting, and the increased risk to the business from even just the perception of a poor response, companies everywhere need to change the paradigm for how they approach incident response

Implications of Continuous Reporting for Businesses

This rising trend toward continuous breach reporting has profound impacts for enterprises. It necessitates proactive preparation to quickly identify, respond and investigate incidents in parallel with gathering data to understand scope and impact. Legal and executive teams need to be ready to engage regulators, customers and other parties with timely, accurate updates about response activities and outcomes. This is particularly important as contractual breach notification terms, influenced by regulations, also increasingly require not just initial notice but ongoing audits, reports, and access to root cause analyses.

Failure to provide satisfactory ongoing reporting can severely damage reputation and trust with authorities, customers and the public. Organizations must ensure their teams and approach are prepared for these obligations. Trained, experienced incident response teams who can efficiently execute response plans while coordinating internally with other business units, legal, and communications is critical. With rigorous preparation, businesses can confidently tackle continuous reporting, satisfying regulators while maintaining customer trust. 

Smaller companies with limited cybersecurity resources face particular challenges in meeting expectations for transparency and regular communication during high-stress incidents. In these cases, comprehensive cyber insurance is essential, and these companies should ensure coverage for regulatory investigations, fines, and communications costs during incidents is included. Even with a limited team, the value to the business of preparedness is enormous.

Regardless of company size, with regulators and the public demanding increased transparency, proactive preparation is the best risk mitigation strategy and will pay dividends through improved resilience and minimized disruption.

Achieving Effective Continuous Reporting Readiness

To meet growing demands for continuous breach reporting, companies must adopt a new set of best practices, abandoning the current paradigm. Given the speed to report and the need for extreme accuracy, implementing automated incident response platforms with embedded expertise to speed detection, quarantining and analysis is a must.

Businesses need to build holistic playbooks that include all teams’ processes, from security investigation and containment to navigating complex, evolving legal and reporting obligations to communications with customers, partners, media, and more. These playbooks must cover the wide range of threats likely to target the business–a single incident response plan and approach will not be effective.

Trying to handle continuous reporting manually or through external counsel dramatically increases costs, frequently beyond what cyber insurance policies will cover. While many only see hurdles to overcome to implement this as part of an effective incident response program, current technology automation like the BreachRx incident management and response platform enable cybersecurity teams to easily exceed these criteria and alleviate both operational and compliance challenges. Beyond the advantages in terms of regulations, these platforms streamline and foster team collaboration, reduce the consequences of incidents, and expedite the overall operational response process. 

Ultimately, automation empowers teams to decisively prioritize and address security incidents, bolstering cyber resilience throughout the organization. Given regulators believe continuous reporting is essential to incentivize proactive cybersecurity and gain better threat awareness, taking a new approach is critical. Organizations must re-architect their programs, technologies, and processes to achieve a more transparent, repeatable, and effective incident response program.

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