Sunday, 17 November 2019
Data Protection for METS Companies - Preparing a Response Plan
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Data Protection for METS Companies - Preparing a Response Plan

This was originally published online by Harris Gómez Group.

In previous blog posts, we have discussed the importance for Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) companies to increase their data protection methods and awareness. For a full discussion on the importance of data security for METS as well as what the law in Australia requires of companies, see the post here.

In today’s post, we will go deeper into one key aspect of cyber-security approach that any METS company should incorporate – the data breach response plan. 

With the wider mining industry undergoing a period of disruption and transformation that is driven by technology, data and analytics, it is imperative that companies not only take advantage of the opportunities that the digital transformation brings, but also to protect themselves against the increased cyber-security risk that comes with this. Increased cyber threats and poor implementation of cyber security has the potential to lead to significant consequences for a METS company and the entire chain of operations for their clients.

A data breach response plan is an essential aspect of cyber-security methods that all METS companies should have in place. Being able to respond quickly to a data breach by using an up-to-date data breach response plan is critical to effectively manage the consequences of a breach. A well-drafted response plan will outline an organisation’s strategy for identifying, containing, assessing and managing a data breach incident from start to finish. It should be both a comprehensive and practical document assigning roles and a strategy for dealing with the breach. 

Why should a METS company have a data breach response plan?

While it is important for any organisation to have a plan in place, it is particularly critical for METS companies to have an adequate response plan. Beyond the obvious implication of potential downtime, cyber-attacks can pose a significant risk to clients.

With this in mind, a data response plan will help a METS company respond quickly to a breach. A quick response to a data breach will assist in a few ways, including the following:

  • Help to meet legal and legislative obligations:In Australia, entities have obligations under the Privacy Actthat mean they must take “reasonable steps” to protect the personal information that it holds. A response plan that adequately deals with reducing impacts of a breach will form part of these reasonable steps. 
  • Work to reduce the impact of the breach:A rapid response can significantly reduce the impact on affected individuals. For METS companies, this may mean less of a disruption to a company’s operations, less potential for safety of workers to be put at risk, and can also lessen financial costs related to managing the breach. 
  • Protect a company’s reputation and image:An effective response to a data breach is critical to protecting a company’s reputation. It not only demonstrates that an entity has respect for the privacy of its clients and other individuals, but also shows that a company is able to effectively manage personal information and deal with problems as they arise. 

What is a response plan?

While a response plan’s details will vary depending on the individual operations and business of each company, broadly speaking it will be a framework that sets out how a data breach is managed, assigning roles and responsibilities and describing the exact steps to be taken in order to deal with a breach. 

The response plan should be in writing, and staff should be educated as to what needs to occur in the event of a breach. Furthermore, the response plan should be kept in a readily available place so it can be accessed if a breach does occur and so that staff are also able to refer to it routinely so that they know their role in managing the response. 

In addition, the response plan should be reviewed and tested regularly to ensure that it remains up-to-date and that staff know how to action it. For a METS company, a test may be running through a roleplay with staff to see how they would respond, and identifying areas where responses could be improved. 

What should the response plan include?

The more detailed that a company’s response plan is, the better. This is because more thought and planning will have gone into preparing for a data breach, so a company will have the best opportunity possible to reduce potential damages and risks. 

In general terms, a well-drafted response plan will include the following:

  • An explanation of what defines a data breach, along with examples of what a data breach could be. This will allow staff to be able to correctly identify a data breach in the event that one occurs. 
  • A strategy for assessing, managing and containing data breaches. The strategy should include what actions staff and the response team will take in the event of a breach. 
  • Roles of staff. The roles and responsibility of all staff should be involved, dealing with communications and who is to be informed, when and if a minor breach can be handled by managers or if it should be escalated etc. 
  • Documentation of the breach. The plan should also detail how history of breaches will be recorded, for internal purposes as well as evidence of compliance with any applicable legislation. 
  • Response team. The plan should detail who in the organisation will form part of the team responding to the breach. 
  • A post-breach review process in order to identify any potential weaknesses that may have led to the breach. 

Conclusion

As mining technology and its implementation rapidly evolve, the METS industry needs to ensure that its cyber-security measures keep pace and adequately combat against increased levels of risk. The nature of the METS industry provides the conditions for more serious attacks, with cyber-attacks having the potential to not only impact regular operations but also pose a threat to clients. The convergence of IT and operational technology in the METS industry, as well as the fact that many METS companies will be transnational operations makes them particularly vulnerable to the effects of cyber-attacks, and as lawyers we always advise to reduce the risk and plan ahead rather than deal with issues as they arise. A data breach response plan is a key way for METS companies to do this. 

Harris Gomez Group is a Common Law firm, with offices in Santiago, Bogotá, and Sydney. We also have legal teams in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina. Over the last 18 years, we have been supporting foreign companies with their growth in Australia and Latin America. Many of our clients are technology companies, service providers and engineering companies that focus on the mining, energy and infrastructure markets.

To better understand how we can support your management team in the Region, please contact Cody Mcfarlane at cmm@hgomezgroup.com.

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