This article was contributed by Cynthia Madison who works as an author at SmallBizClub.
If the term data breach is enough to send shudders down your spine, you're not alone. Information infringement events are particularly destructive and can amount to much damage for companies. Perhaps the biggest problem is the damage to your brand's reputation which can often be quite difficult to get back from.
If your company gets negative publicity as a place where data protection isn't taken seriously, it can take you years to recover. In extreme cases, you may never go back to your pre-breach, or only regain a fraction of the trust customers used to place in you.
This can signal serious problems for your revenue and the long-term growth of your enterprise. Unless you want to stagnate and struggle with the aftermath of digital violation for a long time to come, you should act promptly to solve the situation. Here's some advice on what you can do to recover as soon as possible and return stronger than ever.
Determine the extent
The first and most important thing to do after becoming aware of the presence of a breach is to determine the extent to which it has spread in the system. If it was due to malware, you should quarantine the infected files and documents so that the infection is contained and doesn't spill into the rest of your system. This is particularly important in the workplace as a virus that infects one computer is most likely to move to others as well and holds the potential to compromise files beyond recovery.
As extra precaution, you should also refrain from using any hardware you suspect of having been infected. Remove internet connection and cease use immediately so that you don't only prevent the breach from spreading but you also ensure that the devices can be preserved for further investigation. During this time, you can contact a specialist to analyse the equipment and data in order to determine what exactly happened, and offer some advice into how you can prevent the same event from occurring in the future.
This is also helpful in the case in which you're not exactly sure that a breach has even occurred. Estimates place the figure of false positives at between 40 and 50%, which is a hefty portion of the overall threat warnings. Events such as this can create a significant amount of uncertainty in the company and cause everyone to be on edge for a while. These non-malicious notifications can be due to bugs, unrecognised traffic or glitches in software drivers. A thorough assessment will be able to determine if it's a false alarm, or if your company has genuinely been targeted by a breach.
Examine the discoveries
After you've completed the evaluation of the whole system, it's important to complete a full, detailed report of everything that happened. Take notes and create a timeline of the events, so you have the particulars in order when you have to contact the authorities. When you gather all the evidence you need you stand a higher chance of tracing it right back to the source. In some cases, the culprit may not be a hacker but rather someone from within your company that committed a mistake. Data breaches can and do happen by mistake, with some research figures estimating that a significant amount of cases fall under this category.
Another situation for which you need to comprise a comprehensive report is if you're considering filing a compensation claim. If a third-party company has been entrusted with the data and they were negligent in their duty of care, you should contact a UK data breach compensation attorney to help you construct a pertinent claim that will stand in court. One of the most important aspects of a successful case is the amount of evidence you bring to court that'll make your situation understood as clearly as possible and help you get the results you want.
If a breach occurred, it's likely due to some intrinsic vulnerabilities in your digital system. Cybercriminals generally approach enterprises whose computer programming is not the greatest, as they are much easier to exploit. Nobody wants to deal with the hassle of working against a powerful antivirus system, for example, when they could crack a poorly protected organization. For this reason, you must take the necessary precautions and make sure to patch any vulnerabilities so the same thing doesn't reoccur in the future. Not only that, but you should also carry out a rigorous analysis during which you attempt to locate any other areas of the system which hackers may use as a starting point.
It's not easy predicting where an attack may occur, but if something looks like it could be used to weaken your system, it's probably best to reinforce that area, just to be on the safe side of things. In this sense, you can start a cybersecurity awareness program during which you train all your employees to better recognize a potential threat when they see it and solve it before it's taken advantage of.
Announce and prevent
We've already established that data breaches cause a great deal of harm to business reputation, but there are ways to take the first steps to regain your clientele's trust. You need to communicate honestly and openly. Don't leave anything out as that can cause rumors to spread, which will do more harm than good. Facing the consequences head-on can be scary, but attempting a cover-up can be disastrous in the long term and leave your company unable to recover. Provide the affected customers with valuable advice on how they can protect themselves (for instance, they may have to change their passwords or keep a watchful eye on their bank accounts until further notice), and assure them that you're doing everything in your power to manage the situation accordingly.
Lastly, you need to pledge your determination to prevent similar events from happening in the future. The corrective steps you're taking now won't matter much unless you learn from your mistakes and vow to do better in the future. Make sure you live up to your promise and take the necessary steps to improve. Step by step, you'll notice that you'll be able to rebuild your buyers' trust and confidence.
About the author
Cynthia Madison is an author at SmallBizClub.com with a solid technical, business, and financial foundation. She's responsible for providing share-worthy articles that deliver value straight to the point. Cynthia enjoys watching thought-provoking TED talks on technology advancements in her spare time. She lives a “never stop learning” life.