The Data Incident

, 2019-03-06

I was reading a Google whitepaper and I think this was the first time I'd seen a potential loss of data referred to as a data incident. The paper deals with the response from the Google Cloud team if there are potential data loss issues, outlining a four part process for responding and ensuring the customer can get back to work. Azure has a similar plan, though AWS seems to expect the customer to do more of the work.

This is the first public disclosure of a process, and it's a good one. In fact, everyone should use this or have something similar in their organization. The way that the world seems to be moving, it's likely that most of us will suffer a breach at some point, and we ought to know how to respond. Without some plan, it's easy to have a situation spiral out of control.

I've had formalized DR plans as well as incident responses for events such as a DDOS or virus attack, but the issues with data are somewhat different and probably deserve a dedicated plan of some sort. While I've often seen these handled under the security team response, that might not be enough for data services, especially when you have responsibility for data that is different than managing a software system or service.

Data security is becoming a more important part of the data professional's job, with legislation and best practices starting to require that we recognize a shared interest in sensitive data that extends beyond our organization. Whether this is something you like or dislike, it is becoming a part of our work.

Personally I like having a crafted plan that is available for use in crisis situations. It can be hard to remember all the possible issues, and certainly crisis seem to occur when our best people aren't available. Even more important, a plan means we have something we can practice to be sure that everyone understands how to react, limit the exposure of data, and even ensure that we can get services back up and running as soon as possible. 

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