Best Practices for Preventing Data Incidents and Near Misses

Best Practices for Preventing Data Incidents and Near Misses


These days, data security is paramount for organisations’ survival and success. Data incidents risk sensitive information, the organisation’s reputation, and financial health. Implementing robust prevention strategies is not just about deploying the right technology; it’s about creating a culture of security awareness and compliance. This expanded guide explores additional facets of preventing data incidents and near misses, emphasising the importance of a proactive and comprehensive approach.

Advanced Technological Defenses

AI and Machine Learning: Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can significantly enhance an organisation’s ability to detect and respond to security threats in real-time. These technologies can analyse patterns and predict potential breaches before they occur, providing an additional layer of security.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): EDR solutions offer real-time monitoring and threat detection for endpoints, enabling organisations to quickly identify and isolate affected devices to prevent the spread of malware or other attacks.

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM): As more organisations move to cloud-based solutions, CSPM tools help ensure that cloud environments adhere to security policies and compliance standards, preventing misconfigurations that could lead to data breaches.

Building a Culture of Security

Security Champions Program: Establishing a security champions program can empower individuals within different departments to actively promote security best practices, serving as a bridge between the IT department and the rest of the organisation.

Gamification of Training: Making security training engaging through gamification can increase participation and information retention. Interactive quizzes, challenges, and rewards make learning about data protection more effective and enjoyable.

Regular Security Audits and Feedback Loops: Conducting regular security audits and establishing feedback loops with employees can help identify potential vulnerabilities and improve security measures based on real-world input.

Regulatory Compliance and Best Practices

Stay Updated on Regulations: Data protection laws are constantly evolving. Staying informed about regulation changes like GDPR, CCPA, and others is crucial for maintaining compliance and protecting against legal and financial repercussions.

Data Protection by Design and Default: Integrating data protection considerations into the development phase of products, processes, or systems ensures that privacy and security are foundational rather than afterthoughts.

Vendor Risk Management: Organisations must also assess and manage the risks associated with third-party vendors who handle sensitive data, ensuring they comply with the same stringent data protection standards.

Incident Response Preparedness

Simulated Attack Exercises: Regularly conducting simulated cyberattack exercises, such as phishing simulations or penetration testing, can help test the effectiveness of the organisation’s incident response plan and identify areas for improvement.

Comprehensive Incident Response Plan: A detailed incident response plan, regularly updated to reflect the evolving threat landscape, is critical. This plan should include clear procedures for containment, eradication, and recovery and communication strategies for stakeholders.


Preventing data incidents and near misses is an ongoing challenge that requires a multifaceted approach. Organisations can significantly enhance their data protection efforts by embracing advanced technologies, fostering a culture of security awareness, adhering to regulatory requirements, and preparing for potential incidents. Michelle Molyneux Business Consulting is dedicated to helping businesses navigate these complexities, ensuring that your data protection strategies are compliant and effective in mitigating risks in today’s ever-evolving digital landscape.

Book a clarity call today to see how we can support you with your data incidents.

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Why not read our other blogs, ‘Understanding the difference between Data Incidents and Data Breaches‘ or ‘Risk Assessing a data Breach’ or ‘Understanding data incidents and the Importance of reporting’

The Anatomy of a Near Miss in Data Security

The Anatomy of a Near Miss in Data Security


“A near miss” in data security refers to an incident that doesn’t result in a data breach but draws attention to possible weaknesses in an organisation’s data protection approach. Such events serve as warning signals and provide crucial lessons without the consequences of a complete data breach.

Defining Near Misses

Near misses can be thought of as “close calls” or incidents that had the potential to become serious but were averted due to timely intervention or sheer luck.

Examples include

  • An employee identifying and reporting a phishing email before any information is disclosed
  • A malware attack that is stopped by security software before infecting the network.
  • A responsible colleague could find a misplaced laptop containing unencrypted personal data before it falls into the wrong hands, averting a potential data disaster.
  • Or, an IT team might discover a vulnerability in their system during a routine check just before hackers exploit it, allowing the organisation to patch the security hole in time. Each of these examples underscores the importance of vigilance, prompt action, and continuous improvement in data protection strategies to prevent actual breaches.

Learning from Near Misses

Every near miss is an opportunity for learning and improvement. That starts with recording it on your incident form. They provide insights into potential vulnerabilities and help organisations to:

  • Identify weak points in their security infrastructure.
  • Test the effectiveness of their incident response plans.
  • Enhance employee awareness and training programs.

Case Studies

Imagine an employee receiving a phishing email but being able to identify it and report it promptly to the IT department. This incident highlighted the necessity for more effective email filtering and providing staff training on spotting and avoiding phishing attempts. Another scenario could be an unsuccessful login attempt that was prevented by two-factor authentication, demonstrating the importance of having multiple layers of security.


Near misses are a crucial feedback mechanism for any data protection strategy. They allow organisations to preemptively address vulnerabilities and strengthen their defences without the fallout of a data breach. Our next blog will provide a step-by-step guide to reporting data incidents and near misses effectively.

Book your free clarity call today if you need support around incident reporting.

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Understanding the Difference Between Data Incidents and Data Breaches

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Understanding Data Incidents and the Importance of Reporting

Understanding Data Incidents and the Importance of Reporting


Nowadays, data is the lifeblood of businesses, making data incidents a critical concern. An incident can range from a simple employee mistake, like sending an email to the wrong person, to more severe cases, such as cyber-attacks that compromise customer information. Understanding and reporting these incidents are not just about compliance but foundational to trust and security in the digital ecosystem.

What Constitutes a Data Incident?

A data incident occurs whenever a security breach leads to accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, or unauthorised disclosure of or access to personal data. This broad definition encompasses everything from cyberattacks like malware or phishing to physical breaches such as unauthorised access to a laptop containing sensitive information.

The Importance of Reporting

As a responsible business, it is crucial to report any instance of a near miss or suspected breach of personal information without delay. It is important to ensure that your clients’ personal information is kept safe and secure at all times, not just to comply with regulations, but also to respect their privacy and build trust in your business. In case of a breach, reporting it immediately can help mitigate the damage and prevent similar incidents in the future. We encourage our employees to be vigilant and report any such incidents promptly to the relevant authorities to uphold our commitment to data security and privacy.

Types of Data Incidents

Data incidents can vary widely in nature and impact. Examples include:

  • Phishing Attacks: Where attackers trick employees into providing access to the system.
  • Ransomware: Malicious software that encrypts data, demanding a ransom for its release.
  • Accidental Data Exposure: An employee mistakenly sends sensitive information to the wrong recipient.


Understanding the scope and variety of data incidents is the first step in building an effective data protection strategy. The importance of reporting cannot be overstated, as it is a key component of compliance, mitigation, and, ultimately, maintaining the trust of your customers. Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll dive into the anatomy of a near miss in data security.

Book a clarity call today to see how we can support you with your data incidents

Similiar content

Why not read our other blog ‘Understanding the difference between Data Incidents and Data Breaches‘ or ‘Risk Assessing a data Breach’