5 Steps to Take After a Data Breach
There’s nothing more serious for a business than to deal with a data breach. The effects of an attack can last for months, if not years. You need to fix the issue and ensure that it doesn't happen again in the future while providing reassurance to your clients. Getting it right can rescue your reputation, credit rating and safeguard your business. Here are the steps you need to take after a data breach.
Find out if a breach has occurred. It is not uncommon for a scammer to claim that your accounts have been compromised, in an attempt to steal your personal information. Stay informed about the latest scams. Train your staff to recognise a scam to prevent a data breach. An effective firewall is just a start – you also need to ensure that your ‘human’ firewall know how to deal with email, telephone and online scams.
If a breach has happened, it is time to find out the cause and ascertain the seriousness of the breach. If you are unable to do this in-house, call in IT security specialists. They will:
- Quickly determine what has been compromised.
- Identify the vulnerabilities that caused the data breach.
- Fix the issue so that it won’t happen again in the future.
Identify the suspected cause of the incident. For example, was the breach caused by an open port in your firewall, malware, outdated software or antivirus software, or by human error?
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Tip: Don’t rely on guesswork! Get expert evaluation and rectification.
You need to stop the data leakage, remove the hacker, patch the system and keep evidence of a breach.
- Determine how to stop the breach from spreading.
- Eliminate the threat.
- Take your computers and servers offline.
- Isolate the system.
Tip: The quicker you detect and respond to the breach, the less likely it will spiral out of control.
Notify relevant third parties including your bank and financial institutions. This will lock your accounts and prevent further transactions. In many cases, it will release you from the liability for these changes.
It is vital that you understand your legal requirements and the situations that require mandatory data breach notification. This preparation should happen before a data breach - instead of waiting until you are in the midst of a crisis.
Gather a team to respond to the situation. Whether you handle the issue in-house or have an outsourced IT service provider, you need to notify the team of the breach. Together, you will put an action plan in place to resolve the issue.
The next step is to notify your employees and customers of the breach. In an attempt to protect your good name, you may be tempted to minimise the seriousness of the situation or withhold information.
The basic rules are:
- Be open and honest.
- Admit if the issue was your fault and accept responsibility.
- Provide relevant details.
- Explain why the situation took place.
- Explain the steps that are being taken to resolve the issue.
- Invite dialogue. Discuss the issue with clients, analysts, media and the general public, according to the type of breach.
- Educate your customers as to how this situation will be prevented in the future.
Once you know that your system is 'locked down' and safe, change all of your passwords. A hacker can leave a Trojan horse behind, which means that they can record your changed password. Don't take any chances. Get expert IT support to ensure that your system is safe.
When you change passwords, remember that if one account was compromised, the hacker could use the 'forgot my password' reset to access other accounts. Don't make it easy. Avoid common names like your name, kids, business name backwards. A robust password will be 7-10 digits in length, with a mix of numbers, symbols, upper case and lower case letters.
Increase security measures
Once you have resolved the data breach, you will need to redesign your security infrastructure to safeguard against future attacks. Remember, the source of the issue can be internal or external. This means that you not only need to protect your organisation from external hackers, but from dishonest insiders.
Steps that you may take include installing an encryption program, educating your employees about online risks and advising them of measures to protect their email accounts and passwords from compromise.
The best defense happens before a breach. Prevention is the cheapest and easiest option. Managed IT Security ensures that your hardware, software, devices and workstations are protected. An expert team will monitor and manage your account 24/7 and proactively guard your valuable assets. With little upfront costs and an affordable monthly price, it is an effective way to ensure that your business is safe from hackers, ransomware and online threat.