Avid Technology reports a breach that they discovered in 2018

What should states do when notification is made but took more than one year? Are explanations sufficient to avoid any penalties for late notice?  Here’s a case where notice to some individuals was made more than 7 months after discovery of a problem, but others did not get notified for more than one year.  Read the chronology from this notification by Avid Technology to the California Attorney General’s Office on December 24, 2019. Their notification begins:

Avid Technology is writing to inform you of an event that may impact some of your personal information. We wanted to provide you with information about the event, our response, and steps you may take to better protect against the possibility of fraud, should you feel it is necessary to do so.

What Happened? In October of last year, Avid determined there had been unauthorized access to certain Avid employee email accounts. Avid first identified suspicious activity within an email account on September 24, 2018, and promptly launched an investigation into the nature and scope of the incident, the information that may have
been improperly accessed, and the identities of the impacted individuals. Avid also took steps to secure the email accounts. The investigation determined a rule to forward all incoming messages to an unauthorized email account was established on an employee’s account from October 8, 2018 to October 12, 2018. Avid then began an extensive programmatic and manual review of the impacted account to determine if any sensitive data was contained in the account. Avid began notifying individuals on or around June 5, 2019, while this data review was underway. On August 16, 2019, we completed the process of identifying individuals who may have had personal information accessible in the account. We recently concluded a thorough, manual review of our records to identify contact information for the remaining individuals with information accessible within the account.

I am not doubting the company’s sincere efforts. Not at all. And they are offering those notified two years of complimentary credit monitoring and restoration services. But the time involved — while costly and difficult for them, undoubtedly — resulted in delayed notification.  And we know that there are some situations in which data starts to get misused immediately.

I’m not sure what the answer is to this. Can the law require notification within X days or months? Could companies afford to take on the extra labor to search and investigate faster? Is this where insurance comes in, and if so, are SMBs doomed? Or do we just need to accept that these things happen and not penalize businesses that had “normal” or “average” data security but suffered a breach?

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