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GDPR Step 12: Responding to a breach

Version 1, September 2018

The Executive Committee is responsible for the security, integrity and confidentiality of all the data it holds. The Executive Committee is also obliged under GDPR to keep personal data safe and secure and respond promptly and appropriately to any data security breaches. Although all adult volunteers have a responsibility for the information they generate, manage, transmit and use in line with GDPR, it is the Executive Committee’s legal duty to secure personal and confidential data at all times.

Any person who knows or suspects that a breach of data security has occurred should report the breach immediately according to this Data Breach Response Plan.

It is vital that prompt action is taken in the event of any actual, potential or suspected breach of data security or confidentiality to avoid the risk of harm to young people or adult volunteers, damage to the Scouts operations and severe financial, legal and reputational costs to the Movement as a whole.

What is a personal Data Security Breach?

A data security breach is any event that has the potential to affect the confidentiality, integrity or availability of personal data held by the Scout Group, District, County/Area/Region (Scotland) in any format. Personal data security breaches can happen for a number of reasons, including:
• the disclosure of confidential data to unauthorised individuals
• the loss or theft of portable devices or equipment containing identifiable personal, confidential or sensitive data e.g. PCs, USB, mobile phones, laptops, disks etc
• the loss or theft of paper records
• inappropriate access controls allowing unauthorised use of information
• a suspected breach of the IT security
• attempts to gain unauthorised access to computer systems, e.g. hacking
• records altered or deleted without authorisation from the data ‘owner’
• viruses or other security attacks on IT equipment systems or networks
• breaches of physical security e.g. forcing of doors or windows into secure room or filing cabinet containing confidential information
• confidential information left unlocked in accessible areas
• the insecure disposal of confidential paper waste
• leaving IT equipment unattended when logged in to a user account without locking the screen to stop others accessing information
• the publication of confidential data on the internet in error and accidental disclosure of passwords
• misdirected emails or faxes containing identifiable personal, confidential or sensitive data

How to respond to a data breach?

In line with best practice, these five steps should be followed when responding to a data security breach:

  1. Identification and initial assessment
  2. Containment and recovery
  3. Risk Assessment
  4. Notification
  5. Evaluation and response

A flow chart to help manage a breach of data can be found here.

1: Identification and initial assessment

To assist this process a Breach Notification Form is available. This form will help the Executive Committee to conduct an initial assessment of the incident by establishing if a personal data security breach has taken place, and if so:
• what personal data is involved in the breach
• the cause of the breach
• the extent of the breach, i.e. how many individuals are affected
• the harms to affected individuals that could potentially be caused by the breach
• how the breach can be contained

The Executive Committee can determine the severity of the incident using the reference table and by completing the Data Breach Severity Form, i.e. to decide if the incident can be managed and controlled locally or if it is necessary to escalate the incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The severity of the incident will be categorised on a scale of 0 to 6, this is for guidance only.

2: Containment and recovery

Once it has been established that a data breach has occurred, the Executive Committee needs to take immediate and appropriate action to limit the breach;
• Establish who within the Scout Group, District, County/Area/Region (Scotland) needs to be made aware of the breach and inform them of what they are expected to do to contain the breach (for example finding a lost piece of equipment, changing access codes on doors, isolating/closing a compromised section of the network, etc)
• Establish whether there is anything that can be done to recover any losses and limit the damage the breach can cause (for example physical recovery of equipment/records, the use of back-ups to restore lost/damaged data)
• Establish if it is appropriate to notify affected individuals immediately (for example where there is a high level of risk of serious harm to individuals)
• Where appropriate (for example in cases involving theft or other criminal activity), inform the police.

3: Risk assessment

In assessing the risk arising from a data security breach, the relevant Executive Committee are required to consider the potential adverse consequences for individuals, i.e. how likely are adverse consequences to materialise and, if so, how serious or substantial are they likely to be. The information provided on the Breach Notification Form will help with this stage.

The Executive Committee should review the incident report to:
• Assess the risks and consequences of the breach.
• Risks for individuals.
• What are the potential adverse consequences for individuals?
• How serious or substantial are these consequences?
• How likely are they to happen?
• Risks for the Scout Group, District, County/Area/Region (Scotland) or Country.
- Strategic and operational.
- Compliance/legal.
- Financial.
- Reputational.
• Consider what type of data is involved, how sensitive is it? Were there any protections such as encryption? What has happened to the data? If data has been stolen it could be used for purposes which are harmful to the individuals to whom the data relate; if it has been damaged this poses a different type and level of risk.
• Consider how many individuals’ personal data are affected by the breach.  It is not necessarily the case that the bigger risks will accrue from the loss of large amounts of data but is certainly an important determining factor in the overall risk assessment.
• Consider the individuals whose data has been breached.  Whether they are young people or adult volunteers will to some extent determine the level of risk posed by the breach and therefore, the actions in attempting to mitigate those risks.
• Consider what harm can come to the affected individuals. Are there risks of physical safety or reputation, of financial loss or a combination?
• Consider if there are wider consequences to consider such as a loss of public confidence in Scouting as a whole.
• Determine, where appropriate, what further remedial action should be taken on the basis of the incident report to mitigate the impact of the breach and prevent repetition.

The Executive Committee should prepare an incident report setting out (where applicable):
• a summary of the security breach
• the people involved in the security breach (such as young people, adult volunteers)
• details of the information, IT systems, equipment or devices involved in the security breach and any information lost or compromised as a result of the incident
• how the breach occurred
• actions taken to resolve the breach
• impact of the security breach
• unrealised, potential consequences of the security breach
• possible courses of action to prevent a repetition of the security breach
• side effects, if any, of those courses of action
• recommendations for future actions and improvements in data protection as relevant to the incident

The incident report will then be used to update the risk registers at the appropriate levels where necessary. Any significant risks will be reported and managed via the Risk Register.

4: Notification

On the basis of the evaluation of risks and consequences the Executive Committee, and others involved in the incident as appropriate, will determine whether it is necessary to notify the breach to others outside the Scout Group, District or County/Area/Region (Scotland) or Country. For example:
• parents
• individuals (data subjects) affected by the breach
• the Information Commissioner’s Office
• police
• the press/media via the Scouts UK headquarters media team
• insurers
• bank or credit card companies
• external legal advisers

As well as deciding who to notify, the Executive Committee must consider:
• What is the message that needs to be communicated?

In each case, the notification should include as a minimum:
• a description of how and when the breach occurred;
• what data was involved; and
• what action has been taken to respond to the risks posed by the breach.

When notifying individuals, the Executive Committee should give specific and clear advice on what steps they can take to protect themselves, what the Scout Group, District, County/Area/Region (Scotland) is willing to do to assist them and details of how they can contact the Executive Committee for further information.
• How to communicate the message?

What is the most appropriate method of notification (for example are there large numbers of people involved? Does the breach involve sensitive data? Is it necessary to write to each individual affected? Is it necessary to seek legal advice on the wording of the communication?)
• Why are we notifying?

Notification should have a clear purpose, for example to enable individuals who may have been affected to take steps to protect themselves (e.g. by cancelling a credit card or changing a password), to allow regulatory bodies to perform their functions, provide advice and deal with complaints, etc.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) expects that serious breaches should be brought to their attention. Serious breaches are not defined but guidance is available on the ICO website.

Any contact with the ICO should be made through the Executive Committee. Initial contact with the ICO should be made by the Executive Committee within two working days of becoming aware of the breach, outlining the circumstances surrounding the incident through submission of the Breach Notification Form and the Breach Severity Form. The ICO will make a determination regarding the need for a detailed report and/or subsequent investigation based on the nature of the incident and the presence or otherwise of appropriate physical or technological security measures to protect the data. In cases where the decision is made by the Executive Committee not to report a breach, a brief summary of the incident with an explanation of the basis for not informing the ICO will be retained by the Executive Committee.

When the personal data breach is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of those affected, the Executive Committee shall communicate the personal data breach to the data subject without undue delay.

The communication to the data subject referred to in paragraph one shall describe in clear and plain language the nature of the personal data breach and contain at least the information and measures referred to above.

The communication to the data subject shall not be required if any of the following conditions are met:
• The Executive Committee has implemented appropriate technical and organisational protection measures, and those measures were applied to the personal data affected by the personal data breach, in particular those that render the personal data unintelligible to any person who is not authorised to access it, such as encryption
• The Executive Committee has taken subsequent measures which ensure that the high risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects is no longer likely to materialise
• It would involve disproportionate effort. In such a case, there shall instead be a public communication or similar measure whereby the data subjects are informed in an equally effective manner.

If the Executive Committee has not already communicated the personal data breach to the data subject, the ICO, having considered the likelihood of the personal data breach resulting in a high risk, may require it to do so or may decide that any of the conditions referred to are met.

In addition, the Breach Notification Form should passed to the Scouts UK headquarters via the following email address dpa.alert@scouts.org.uk.

NOTE – This email address is only for reporting a breach and there will be no remediation guidance as a direct result. The information will be used by the Scouts to monitor any trends in breaches being reported and update the GDPR Toolkit with further guidance.

5: Evaluation and response

Subsequent to a data security breach, the Executive Committee will conduct a review to ensure that the steps taken during the incident were appropriate and to identify areas that may need to be improved.

The Executive Committee will compile a central record of incidents in the GDPR Breach Register. The Executive Committee will report on incidents to the adult volunteers in order to identify lessons to be learned, patterns of incidents and evidence of weakness and exposures that need to be addressed.
For each serious incident, the Executive Committee will conduct a review and report:
• what action needs to be taken to reduce the risk of future breaches and minimise their impact
• whether policies procedures or reporting lines need to be improved to increase the effectiveness of the response to the breach
• if there are any weak points in security controls that need to be strengthened
• if users of services are aware of their responsibilities for information security and adequately trained
• if additional investment is required to reduce exposure and if so what are the resource implications?

Download the Data Breach register and the Data Breach Notification form.


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