How To Survive And Move Forward From A Data Breach

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In the digital age, cybersecurity is no laughing matter. For businesses, it’s no longer a luxury, it has become a necessity. If you’re a business owner and you’ve done your due diligence in protecting your data, then good for you. However, even the tightest securities can experience a data breach. In the unfortunate event that your business falls prey to a cyberattack, you need to know how to react properly.

Speed is critical

The last thing you want to do after getting hit with a data breach is to lounge around doing nothing. As soon as you realize your defenses have been penetrated, don’t waste time putting your contingency plan into motion. Organizations that react quickly to data breaches look better in the eyes of regulators, organizations, and their customers. Not to mention, the faster you react to a data breach, the smaller you can keep the damages.

Investigate and contain

Upon realizing that a data breach has occurred, your priority should be to gather information. What data has been compromised? Who is affected? When and how exactly did the breach happen? It’s important to understand what actually transpired as soon as possible. You can do this on your own or hire forensic security experts to help you out.

As the investigation reveals more information about the breach, a containment procedure should already be in effect. It’s critical to stop the leakage and remove the malicious entity from your system as soon as possible. Once you have determined how to halt the spread of the breach, eliminate the threat immediately. If you are certain the threat has been dealt with properly, take your computers and servers offline before isolating the system.

Disclose information

You have all the critical info pertaining to the breach and you have stopped the leak from spreading. The next step is to disclose information to every interested party. These include your stakeholders, banks, other financial institutions, and most importantly, your customers. 

You may think that you should be secretive regarding the data breach to protect your company’s reputation, but it’s better to break the bad news yourself rather than it coming from the front page of a newspaper.

Besides, informing the relevant people about the data breach as soon as possible is an important step in mitigating the damage. Your partner banks would be able to freeze your account and prevent further transactions. Notifying concerned parties is also an essential part of complying with legal requirements.

Enact an effective media strategy

As mentioned, you want news of the data breach to be released to the public on your terms. To ensure you are on top of the situation, you need an effective media strategy. Appoint one person to liaise with the media as this prevents journalists from relying on secondary or tertiary sources. You must keep the media updated regarding any development so the public knows you are handling the crisis as best as you can. 

Whatever media strategy you end up with, it’s important to follow these rules:

  • Be honest and transparent – tell only the truth and disclose all relevant information.
  • Admit responsibility and show accountability – if the breach was your company’s fault, accept responsibility for it. 
  • Explain why the breach happened – disseminate information as to what caused the breach. What part of your cybersecurity failed? Was human error involved?
  • Explain how you’re dealing with the problem – ensure all concerned parties that you are taking all the necessary steps to resolve the issue.
  • Be open to dialogue – discuss the breach with clients, analysts, media personalities, and experts.
  • Educate your customers – if there is anything your customers can do on their part to avoid a breach in the future, make sure to educate them about it.

Learn from the breach

Assuming you’ve successfully contained the breach and broken the news to the public in the best way possible, it’s time to sit down and analyze what went wrong. Go through all the information you have gathered regarding the breach and determine what you need to do to improve your security moving forward. 

Fortify your defenses

Whether the data breach occurred due to external or internal issues, you will most likely need to redesign your security infrastructure. This way, you can better protect your company from threats both inside and outside. Other than an overhaul of your defenses, you should also consider the following:

  • Educate your employees and customers – your employees and customers also have a role to play in data protection. By educating them, you further decrease the risk of further breaches. If your employees are well-educated in the best cybersecurity practices, you can mitigate the risks of ransomware and other malicious elements in the cyberspace.
  • Ensure an effective compliance risk management – depending on where your business operates, there could be plenty of regulations surrounding data breaches. To ensure you can keep damages to a minimum, you should invest time and resources in creating an effective compliance risk management going forward.

Final word

No one wants a data breach to happen, and despite having the best cybersecurity you can afford, a data breach can still happen. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is and how strong you think your defenses are. You need to have a plan for when a data breach occurs. Otherwise, your business will always be at a greater risk than it should be.

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