ICO, forgive me – it has been three weeks since I discovered my breach

Businesses slow to detect, report data leaks pre-GDPR

man with finger pressed to lips

Businesses waited an average of three weeks after discovering a data breach to report it to Britain's privacy watchdog before GDPR came into force – with many waiting until the end of week to 'fess up.

According to an analysis of the 181 data breach reports submitted to the Information Commissioner's Office in the year ended 5 April 2018, it took companies 60 days to realise that they had suffered a data breach.

One company took 1,320 days – among 14 that didn't notice for more than 100 days that their systems had been compromised. When broken down by sector, financial services and legal firms were quicker to report breaches to the ICO, averaging 16 and 20 days, respectively.

Businesses tended to take on average 21 days to report the breach after they had identified it.

One firm didn't tell the watchdog for 142 days – about 47 times longer than required under the GDPR, which states that breaches that pose a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals must be reported within 72 hours.

Another took 374 days, which – given that it was reported on 23 November 2017 – looks suspiciously like Uber as its breach hit the headlines the day before when the company 'fessed up in the States.

The data, released under Freedom of Information laws, showed that nearly half of all breaches (87) were reported to the ICO on a Thursday or Friday.

Pen-testing firm Redscan, which requested the data, reckoned that the preference for end-of-week submissions could have been to head off negative PR.

"This might be overly cynical but I suspect that in many cases, breach disclosure on these days may have a deliberate tactic to minimise negative publicity," said cybersecurity director Mark Nicholls.

The FoIs also show that 91 per cent of reports didn't include crucial information, like the impact of the breach, the recovery process or dates.

Some 93 per cent didn't say what the impact of the breach was, or said that they didn't know. Meanwhile, 21 per cent didn't report an incident date to the ICO, and 25 per cent failed to report the date they discovered the incident.

Saturday was the most common day not only for businesses to suffer a data breach, with more than a quarter happening on that day, but also for them to be discovered at about 30 per cent. ®

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