Industry Insights

Data Breach Response in Nigeria: What Businesses Need to Do


Abraham Tanta

Mon Feb 26 2024

Imagine you get a panicked call from a customer. Their credit card was just used fraudulently, and they're convinced your business is the source of the leak. Your heart sinks – a data breach. It's the kind of nightmare no business owner wants to face. Let's face it, data breaches are a nightmare no business wants to deal with. In our previous article Navigating Data Privacy Regulations in Nigeria

we talked about the rules surrounding how you collect and handle data in Nigeria. But what happens if things go wrong, and that information is leaked or stolen? The costs can be huge – you could face fines, lose customer trust, and open yourself up to lawsuits. We know those rules are crucial, but the reality is, even with the best intentions, cyberattacks, system glitches, and plain old human error can happen.

Remember the recent Bet9ja ransomware attack? Hackers crippled the popular sports betting platform, leaving users unable to access their accounts. Or the case of the Ilorin data breach, where thousands of Nigerians had their personal information leaked through an unsolicited broadcast message. These incidents highlight the real-world impact of data breaches, both on individuals and businesses.

That's why hoping for the best isn't a plan. Being prepared is. We wanted to follow up on our earlier discussion with a practical guide. What do you do in the immediate aftermath of a breach? How do you meet your legal obligations, minimize damage, and protect your business's reputation? The costs of getting it wrong can be massive – fines, lawsuits, and the loss of precious customer trust.

The NDPR 72-Hour Rule

Okay, the worst has happened, and you've confirmed a data breach. Now what? The Nigerian Data Protection Regulation is super clear: you have 72 hours to let the authorities know. That means reporting it to the Nigerian Data Protection Bureau. But, here's the thing, it's not just about ticking a legal box.

Notifying Affected Individuals

Think about it - if your personal information was leaked, wouldn't you want to know? That's where notifying the people affected comes in. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • On Timely: Don't drag your feet. The sooner people know, the sooner they can take steps to protect themselves (change passwords, monitor accounts, etc.).
  • Be Clear: Use plain language. Avoid technical jargon and legalese that will leave people even more confused.
  • Be Helpful: Give them specific actions to take. Should they change passwords? Contact their bank? Just telling them there's been a breach isn't enough.

Important Note: It's a good idea to get a lawyer involved in this stage, especially for crafting the notifications. They can help you make sure you're saying everything that needs to be said in the right way.

Mitigating Damage and Strengthening Security

Okay, You've Stopped the Bleeding. Now, How Do You Make Sure This Doesn't Happen Again?

Dealing with the immediate aftermath of a breach is a whirlwind, but you can't afford to just patch things up and move on. It's time for a serious look at how this happened and what needs to change.

Incident Review: Time to Play Detective

Dig into the details:

  • How did the breach occur? Was it a technical issue (like a software vulnerability), a human error (someone clicked a bad link), or something else?
  • What was the root cause? Get beyond the obvious. For example, maybe lack of employee training was a big factor.

This is where those lessons from the review get put into action. Here are some starting points (but you may need additional help from IT specialists):

  • Password Power-Ups: Enforce strong password rules, and consider multi-factor authentication.
  • System Hardening: Make sure software is updated, firewalls in place, and you're monitoring for suspicious activity.
  • The Human Factor: Train employees on phishing scams, how to spot weird emails, and their responsibilities for data protection.

Important: Remember, security is an ongoing process. It's not 'one and done'. Regular reviews and updates are essential!

The "Extras" That Can Make a Big Difference

You've done the essentials – contained the breach, notified the right people, figured out how to improve your security. But there are a few more things worth considering:

  • Calling in the Lawyers: We mentioned them earlier with notifications, but sometimes a breach is complex enough that you need legal advice throughout. Remember, discussions with your lawyer are protected – that can be invaluable in a messy situation.
  • Is Cyber-insurance Worth It?: It's not a magical solution, but good cyber-insurance can help cover the costs of a breach - from incident response to legal fees and even customer compensation if needed. It's something to discuss with your insurance broker.

It's Not About "If" But "When"

Look, no one wants to think about data breaches, but in today's world, it's not a matter of "if" but "when" something might happen. Being prepared isn't just about following the law (though that's important!), it's about protecting your business and your customers.

Remember, a proactive approach to data privacy, like we discussed in our previous blog post, is always your best defense. Having a breach response plan in place before something goes wrong will save you so much stress and potential damage in the long run.

Need More Guidance? Feeling overwhelmed? We get it! Data security can be complex. That's why the team at Tanta Innovatives is offering a free, no-obligation cybersecurity consultation. We can help you assess your current situation, identify potential vulnerabilities, and suggest steps to strengthen your business's defenses. Visit or contact us directly to schedule your free no obligation consultation.

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