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Policy – Data Breach Response Plan

Publication date: January 2020

A data breach occurs when personal information is lost or subjected to unauthorised access or disclosure. For good privacy practice purposes, this response plan also covers any instances of unauthorised use, modification or interference with personal information held by McKee Creative. Data breaches can be caused or exacerbated by a variety of factors, affect different types of personal information and give rise to a range of actual or potential harms to individuals and entities.

This response plan is intended to enable McKee Creative to contain, assess and respond to data breaches quickly. Our actions in the first 24 hours after discovering a data breach are crucial to the success of our response.

The plan sets out contact details for the appropriate staff in the event of a data breach, clarifies the roles and responsibilities of staff, and documents processes to assist McKee Creative to respond to a data breach.

Data breach response team

The McKee Creative Executive is Michael Schwarzel, Director, SkyM8 Pty Ltd (T/A McKee Creative)
The Chief Privacy Officer is Joanne McKee
The Systems Administrator is Mihai Mapetrei

When should a data breach be escalated to McKee Creative’s data breach response team?

Directors to use discretion in deciding whether to escalate to the response team
Some data breaches may be comparatively minor, and able to be dealt with easily without action from the data breach response team (response team).

For example, a McKee Creative officer may, as a result of human error, send an email containing personal information to the wrong recipient. Depending on the sensitivity of the contents of the email, if the email can be successfully recalled (only relates to internal emails), or if the officer can contact the recipient and obtain an assurance that the recipient has deleted the email, it may be that there is no utility in escalating the issue to the response team.

Directors should use their discretion in determining whether a data breach or suspected data breach requires escalation to the response team. In making that determination, Directors should consider the following questions:

  •  Are multiple individuals affected by the breach or suspected breach?
  • Is there (or may there be) a real risk of serious harm to any of the affected individual(s)?
  • Does the breach or suspected breach indicate a systemic problem in OAIC processes or procedures?
  • Could there be media or stakeholder attention as a result of the breach or suspected breach?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then the Director should attempt immediate verbal contact with the Chief Privacy Officer, or if this is not possible, another primary response team member.

The checklist below sets out the steps that the response team will take in the event of a serious data breach.

Directors should inform the Chief Privacy Officer of minor breaches

If a Director decides not to escalate a minor data breach or suspected data breach to the response team for further action, the Director should:

  • Send a brief email to the Chief Privacy Officer that contains the following information:
    • description of the breach or suspected breach
    • action taken by the Director or McKee Creative officer to address the breach or suspected breach
    • the outcome of that action, and
    • the Director’s reasons for their view that no further action is required
  • Save of copy of that email in the following container: Data Breach Response – reports and investigation of data breaches within McKee Creative

McKee Creative data breach response process

There is no single method of responding to a data breach. Data breaches must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, by undertaking an assessment of the risks involved, and using that risk assessment to decide the appropriate course of action. Depending on the nature of the breach, the response team may need to include additional staff or external experts, for example an IT specialist/data forensics expert or a human resources adviser.

There are four key steps to consider when responding to a breach or suspected breach.

  • Step 1: Contain the breach
  • Step 2: Assess the risks associated with the breach
  • Step 3: Consider breach notification
  • Step 4: Review the incident and take action to prevent future breaches

The response team should ideally undertake steps 1, 2 and 3 either simultaneously or in quick succession. At all times, the response team should consider whether remedial action can be taken to reduce any potential harm to individuals.

The response team should refer to the checklist below which provides further detail on each step.

Depending on the breach, not all steps may be necessary, or some steps may be combined. In some cases, it may be appropriate to take additional steps that are specific to the nature of the breach.

Following serious data breaches, the response team should conduct a post-breach review to assess McKee Creative’s response to the breach and the effectiveness of this plan and report the results of the review to the McKee Creative Executive. The post-breach review report should identify any weaknesses in this response plan and include recommendations for revisions or staff training as needed.

Testing this plan

Members of the response team should test this plan with a hypothetical data breach annually to ensure that it is effective. As with the post-breach review following an actual data breach, the response team must report to the McKee Creative Executive on the outcome of the test and make any recommendations for improving the plan.

Records management

Documents created by the response team, including post-breach and testing reviews, should be saved in the following container:

  • Data Breach Response – reports and investigation of data breaches within McKee Creative


The internal handling of personal information will be an agenda item on the Executive group meetings at least once each quarter and include a report of any privacy complaints against McKee Creative and internal data breaches.

The Chief Privacy Officer is responsible for the preparation of reports on internal data breaches.

McKee Creative’s Data Breach Response Checklist

Step 1: Contain the breach

  • Notify the Chief Privacy Officer, who may convene the data breach response team.
  • Immediately contain breach:
    • Consider whether the systems administrator needs to be advised.
  • Consider whether team needs other expertise
  • Inform the McKee Creative Executive as soon as possible; provide ongoing updates on key developments.
  • Ensure evidence is preserved that may be valuable in determining the cause of the breach, or allowing McKee Creative to take appropriate corrective action.
  • Consider a communications or media strategy to manage public expectations and media interest.

Step 2: Assess the risks for individuals associated with the breach

  • Conduct initial investigation, and collect information about the breach promptly, including:
    • the date, time, duration, and location of the breach
    • the type of personal information involved in the breach
    • how the breach was discovered and by whom
    • the cause and extent of the breach
    • a list of the affected individuals, or possible affected individuals
    • the risk of serious harm to the affected individuals
    • the risk of other harms
  • Determine whether the context of the information is important.
  • Establish the cause and extent of the breach.
  • Assess priorities and risks based on what is known.
  • Keep appropriate records of the suspected breach and actions of the response team, including the steps taken to rectify the situation and the decisions made.

Step 3: Consider breach notification

  • Determine who needs to be made aware of the breach (internally, and potentially externally) at this preliminary stage.
  • Determine whether and how to notify affected individuals – is the breach likely to result in serious harm to any of the individuals to whom the information relates and McKee Creative has not been able to prevent the likely risk of serious harm through remedial action. In some cases, it may be appropriate to notify the affected individuals immediately; e.g., where there is a high-level of risk of serious harm to affected individuals.
  • Consider whether others should be notified, including police/law enforcement, or other agencies or organisations affected by the breach or can assist in containing the breach or assisting individuals affected by breach, or where McKee Creative is contractually required or required under the terms of an MOU or similar obligation to notify specific parties.

Step 4: Review the incident and take action to prevent future breaches

  • Fully investigate the cause of the breach.
  • Implement a strategy to identify and address any weaknesses in data handling that contributed to the breach
  • Conduct a post-breach review and report to the McKee Creative Executive on outcomes and recommendations:
    • Update security and response plan if necessary.
    • Make appropriate changes to policies and procedures if necessary.
    • Revise staff training practices if necessary.
    • Consider the option of an audit to ensure necessary outcomes are effected