According to state law, businesses in Colorado that experience a data breach must notify affected residents within 30 days of its discovery.
A data breach is the unauthorized access or release of someone's personally identifiable information (PII), which is any data that could reveal an individual's identity.
Data breaches can happen if an employee clicks on a link in a phishing email, if a laptop or thumb drive is stolen, or if hackers break into a computer network. Accidental security breaches are another cause, such as misconfigured software that leaves data unprotected.
Every small business that handles credit cards or stores customer information is vulnerable to data breaches. IT consultants, healthcare providers, and financial institutions are among the industries with the highest risk.
Colorado’s Consumer Data Protection Laws define personal information as knowing a resident's first name or first initial and last name in combination with one of the following:
It also includes a resident's:
Any business that handles PII should invest in cyber liability insurance to mitigate costs in the event of a data breach.
Colorado state law outlines when and how businesses need to respond to a security breach.
Businesses that experience a data breach must promptly investigate the likelihood that personal information will be misused. Residents must be notified as soon as possible if misuse occurred, or is reasonably likely to occur.
Businesses must report a breach in "in the most expedient time possible, without unreasonable delay, and within 30 days after the date of determination that a security breach has occurred." Notification obligations can be delayed only when they would interfere with a criminal investigation by law enforcement.
Colorado businesses that experience a data breach must notify any residents whose personal information was compromised. Permitted methods include written notices, notification by telephone, and notification by email.
For data breaches that affect 500 or more residents, the business must also notify the Office of the Attorney General.
If the breach affected more than 1,000 Colorado residents, then the business must also notify consumer reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, etc.).
Notices to affected Colorado residents must include:
For data breaches that affect online accounts, the business must also direct residents how to protect their account by changing their password or taking other security measures.
To notify the Colorado Attorney General, businesses must use the online Data Breach Notification Form. The form includes the name and address of the business, the number of people affected, the date of the breach, the scope of the breach, how residents were informed, and other relevant details.
When reporting to credit reporting agencies, businesses must provide the date that residents were notified and the number of affected residents.
Data breaches that impact healthcare facilities and healthcare professionals are regulated by federal laws. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) includes a Breach Notification Rule that requires notification after a breach of unsecured protected health information. Businesses must notify:
Under HIPAA, individuals must be notified by first-class mail, or by email if they've agreed to electronic communication, within 60 days of the discovery of a breach. However, for Colorado residents, the law with the shorter timeframe applies, which means that residents must be informed within 30 days to comply with state law.
The cost of a data breach can be significant, which is why cyber insurance is so important for businesses that handle personal data.
Notifying those affected and paying for credit monitoring can be expensive. You’ll have to investigate and fix your security weaknesses while suffering a possible loss of income, and government fines can also be costly. You might even face a ransomware attack, where hackers shut down your computer systems and demand payment.
If you're responsible for another company's data security, then you may need third-party cyber liability insurance. This policy covers legal expenses when a client blames your business for failing to prevent a data breach at their company.
E&O insurance, also called professional liability insurance, covers your legal costs in the event that a client sues you for making a mistake or failing to deliver on a contract. Tech E&O extends that coverage to include lawsuits related to data breaches and cyberattacks.
While any business could be at risk of a lawsuit after a data breach, this coverage is especially important for information technology businesses, especially IT consultants, network security companies, and cybersecurity businesses that recommend software or are responsible for information security.
The Attorney General may impose civil penalties for failure to provide security breach notifications.
Violations of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act can result in a fine of up to $20,000 per violation.
For businesses that store data, it's crucial to take appropriate steps to prevent data breaches. In fact, Colorado's Consumer Data Protection Laws require businesses to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices to protect personal information.
Businesses are advised to safeguard PII through a variety of methods, such as designating one or more employees to coordinate a security program. It’s a good idea to conduct a security audit of the various types of personal information, unique identifiers, and other data elements you might have in your data systems.
Requiring strong passwords, security questions, two-step authentication, and access codes can provide reasonable data protection for your business and any service providers who access this information, reducing the chance of an unauthorized acquisition.
Complete Insureon’s easy online application today to compare insurance quotes from top-rated insurance carriers for cyber policies. Our licensed agents will help you find coverage that fulfills Colorado's insurance requirements and protects your business. Once you find the right policy for your small business, you can begin coverage in less than 24 hours.