Data breaches are a dreadful regularity in the world of information technology. The truth is that data is one of the most valuable assets a company has, and that provides an incentive for bad actors to attack. For most business owners, data breaches are one of the single most terrifying challenges they face in the modern business environment. Trying to decide how to handle it, the order of response, and the overall impact can be incredibly intimidating. That’s why we’ve built this quick list on handling a business data breach for you and your business.
Identify the Breach
The first step in responding to a data breach is identification. Ideally, you have technology solutions in place that will help you narrow down and identify the specific source of the breach. Without these intrusion detection or prevention systems in place tracking the source of the breach will be much more difficult for your team. Whatever the case, you need to immediately work with your IT department or trusted advisor to find the source of the breach as soon as possible.
Fix the Breach
Once you’ve identified the breach, you need to fix it immediately. The longer that breach remains, the more compromised your information security and your customers as well. Your team, whether in-house or outsourced to a trusted provider, needs to act quickly. The specifics of the fix will vary based on the nature of the breach. For example, if an employee account was compromised and used for the breach, that access needs to be revoked and the rest of your employees should immediately change login passwords for safety.
Test the Fix
With a fix in work, the next step is to test it. By now you should know how the breach occurred and have a fix addressing the problem. Take the time and explore your entire system, making certain that the previous breach is no longer open. This is definitely something that a cybersecurity professional should handle, as it will determine if you are still vulnerable, or able to move on and handle the remainder of the breach-related issues.
Inform Your Customers and the Authorities
With the breach immediately dealt with you need to inform your customers. This isn’t the step that any business owner wants to undertake, but it’s just as vital as everyone up to this point. The fact is that your system has been breached and you need to inform those involved. Stalling or glossing over these types of events won’t help you.
Your first contact should be with the authorities. Federal authorities will be able to help you comply with any post-breach regulatory requirements you may have for your industry. Additionally, if there are any criminal charges to be filed or a way for your breach to aid in an ongoing investigation, this is where that information can be gathered and handled.
Nest you will need to talk to your customers. Letting your customers know about a data breach enables them to deal with the problem as well. They need to know that their data may have been exposed so that appropriate actions can be taken. It will probably be inconvenient for them, but this way they won’t be blindsided. Focus on making this process timely, informative, and thorough, so that all parties have the information they need as soon as possible.
Damage Control and Clean Up
A data breach can have serious impacts on your business. There will be an almost automatic loss of some trust and feelings of uncertainty from some customers. Regaining that trust can take time and will, to some extent, depend on the nature and severity of the breach. Dealing with the breach in an effective and timely manner will help this to some degree. A quick, open, honest, and effective response will help customers feel that you have handled the problem well and preserve some amount of trust. In the end, these breaches can be costly and the road to recovery can be long, that’s why doing everything you can to prevent one is vital.
Data breaches are a business nightmare. They compromise data, cost time and money, and leave us vulnerable to legal action as well as additional attacks. They are also seemingly unavoidable. New methods for attacking business owners happen every day. Ultimately it’s how you handle the breach that will determine the aftermath of it. Even a small one, which can often be a preliminary attack to test your vulnerabilities, should be taken seriously. If you have questions about your data security and how to handle a breach, our team of trusted advisors and consultants are here to help you. Contact us today.
For more information on how to handle a business data breach, take a look at this information from the Federal Trade Commission.
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