Data breaches can be devastating for any business. A single data breach, if sufficiently scaled, has the power to ruin even long-established enterprises. And a data breach could easily topple a small business if it’s not prepared. So what can a business do to recover from a data breach? And how do you prevent a similar data breach in the future? Keep reading to find out.
A data breach is any violation of your organization’s security in which an unauthorized party gains access to sensitive/confidential data they should not be authorized to access. It could mean that a malicious hacker used a brute force attack to gain access to your systems, a disgruntled employee stole and sold sensitive information to a willing buyer, or even that someone accidentally stumbled upon information they weren’t supposed to see.
As you can already tell, data breaches come in many shapes and sizes. But your response to a data breach should always be consistent. Long before a data breach happens, your organization should put together an incident response plan that details exactly what steps you should take after a breach is detected.
So, what should a company do after a data breach? This initially assumes that you’re capable of detecting that a breach has occurred. If you’re not sure, however, if you would be able to detect a data breach, your first priority is putting a data breach monitoring system in place.
If and when you detect a breach has occurred, follow these steps in order:
- Contact a data security professional. Few business owners have the knowledge and skills necessary to respond to a data breach fully and properly. That’s why it’s important to contact a data security professional as soon as possible. Hopefully you’re already working with an organization that has experience in cybersecurity and data breach response. If not, now is the time to find a vendor. Work quickly so you can respond to the data breach promptly.
- Communicate internally. Next, take the time to communicate internally. Your IT department, business decision makers, and other stakeholders should be aware of what’s happening. This is also a critical opportunity to relay instructions to the rest of your employees so they know how to react. For example, you may require them to stop using the affected systems temporarily.
- Stop the breach. With a data breach professional by your side and some initial communications out of the way, your next priority is stopping the breach, or at least containing it as much as you can. Your goal here is to stop the attack in progress or mitigate the attack to minimize your losses. Sometimes, that means cutting off access to a given system. Sometimes, it means containing the threat so it can’t spread. Your response will vary depending on the nature of the data breach.
- Assess the damage. Once you’ve managed to stop the bleeding, it’s time to assess the damage. How much data was the unauthorized party able to access? Is there any measurable damage to your core systems? What kind of effects will this have on your business? You may not be able to accurately forecast the entire scope of this data breach, but you can at least get started.
- Restore lost data. After that, you’ll need to attempt to restore any data that was lost in the breach. If you’ve been backing up your data regularly, as you should in any cybersecurity strategy, this should be relatively easy. Otherwise, you’ll have your work cut out for you.
- Restore down systems. Downtime is incredibly expensive for any business, so you need to prioritize getting up and running quickly. Still, you should only move forward when you’re confident the threat has been resolved.
- Communicate externally. Once you’ve taken care of these items, you can begin communicating externally. Depending on the nature of your business and the nature of the data breach, that could mean submitting a press release about the data breach and your response to it, sending an email to your investors, or even posting on social media to warn customers that a data breach has occurred.
The rapid expansion of technology has allowed more opportunity for bad actors to access your business’s data, leaving it vulnerable to attack. With the right strategies in place, however, you can protect your company from a potential data breach.
Fortunately, most data breaches can be prevented. In the wake of your previous data breach, you should spend some time analyzing your existing systems so you can prevent similar data breaches in the future.
- Analyze weak points and failures. What led to this data breach occurring? What are the weak points and flaws in your systems that resulted in this devastating consequence? How can you repair those holes so they don’t damage your business again?
- Back up your data thoroughly. If you don’t already have a data backup solution in place, now is the time to establish one. Thorough data backups are your ultimate data insurance policy.
- Employ better security defenses. Next, invest in better security defenses. Are you using VPNs, firewalls, and other tools to ward off potential attacks?Practice active monitoring. You need to know about data breaches when they happen without delay. Better active monitoring tools and strategies can help you do it.
- Educate and train employees. Most data breaches are a result of simple human error, so make sure all your employees are educated and trained on how to prevent data breaches—especially those that occur due to social engineering
- Limit access. If all your users are limited in what type of data they can access, the risk of data breach losses will diminish.
- Trust the experts. Keep working with your cybersecurity experts throughout this process to make your defenses and mitigation strategies as robust as possible.
One of the best ways to prevent and recover from a data breach is to hire a professional managed security service provider. At BL King Consulting, we specialize in helping our clients develop more robust cybersecurity and bounce back from even the worst cyberattacks. Contact us today for more information!