Big and small businesses face the risk of data breaches due to human errors, criminal hacking, or inside jobs. These breaches harm the consumers whose data is compromised as well as the reputations of businesses that experience the breaches.
Whether yours is a small or large business, you need to understand the steps to take after a data breach to protect your customers and business, and to prevent further attacks. Here are the steps to take after a data breach.
Honesty is the best policy when your business is facing a data breach. Inform your employees and customers alike if your business experiences one.
Clear and honest communication puts you at the helm and restores the trust that employees, customers and investors have in your business.
Provide clear directions to employees and customers on what they should do in response to the breach such as changing their passwords.
You can still relay the information even as investigation into the source and extent of the breach progresses.
The top things to remember when communicating a breach include timeliness, details, and thoroughness – do not leave your customers uninformed or with sketchy details about the breach.
2. Stop the attack from spreading
Mitigating the attack should be the next logical step to prevent further compromise of your business data.
It starts by evaluating the extent and severity of the breach, then taking measures to protect all your servers, computer networks, and sensitive data.
You can eliminate the threat by isolating servers, shutting down your Wi-Fi, and taking your servers off the network.
You should also work with a cyber security expert to determine the vulnerability the criminals exploited to access your data, and implement the necessary measures to protect your business from similar attacks in future.
Once you have neutralized the threat, put up a short-term security fix. This fix should prevent the hacker from accessing your data as in the first breach.
Test this temporary fix thoroughly to ensure you eliminate the vulnerability from all your systems and servers.
3. Contact your legal representative
Data breaches have certain legal implications depending on your location. For example, companies in the US must notify their customers in case of a data breach.
Your legal representative will explain your position based on different state laws and help you navigate them so that your business is not the subject of lawsuits from clients.
You will also need to investigate possible losses your customers have suffered due to the breach, to provide compensation as applicable.
4. Preserve evidence
In the rush to communicate the breach, or protect more data from a breach, your business can forget the crucial step of saving the necessary evidence.
You should aim to preserve log actions before and after the breach. Such logs will fill in details of the source of the breach, the steps the hackers took, and the information they accessed.
5. Audit and plan ahead
Data breaches can be overwhelming for businesses and their customers. However, a business that has experienced a data breach should implement more advanced cyber security protocols to prevent a subsequent breach.
Involve your IT team in identifying vulnerabilities then deal with them. These vulnerabilities could include application vulnerabilities or human errors.
Once you have neutralized and minimized the breach, you need to plan on how to prevent future incidents and regain the trust of your customers.
Data is a valuable commodity that criminal hackers often target. Information such as social security numbers, birth dates, credit card information could be used for identity theft and fraud. Your business should always be prepared for a data breach by developing a detailed prevention and response plan.