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So, You’ve Had a Data Breach – 5 Steps to Turn a Fail into a Win

You always go above and beyond to secure the private data of your clients and employees, but even the most conscientious network security measures can be compromised. Do you have an action plan in place if a security breach occurs? Taking the right steps after a security breach ensures you can protect your business reputation and keep your clients and employees happy.

#1 Listen & Respond to Users Reporting Breaches NOW

Every report of a breach should be taken seriously and responded to immediately. Start by making it easy for your users to report breaches. The systems you have in place for reporting breaches should alert your team and allow them to respond swiftly and immediately begin taking steps towards verification and resolution.

#2 Disclose Breaches & Your Steps to Fix Them Immediately

As soon as you receive a breach report, your team should verify that the breach occurred. Then, your communications team needs to disclose the breach and steps you’re taking to fix it. Even if other clients are unlikely to be affected by the breach, honestly admitting your error and explaining your plan to repair the problem makes your business look responsible and empathetic. It’s important to respond quickly and clearly, but you don’t want the message to seem rushed. Make sure you have the necessary information. Then, report it clearly and concisely without causing any unnecessary stress or fear for your clients. Some information to include in the data breach communication include:

  • To your best ability explain exactly what happened. You can send updates as necessary when more information is uncovered.
  • Include steps your clients can take to protect their data (changing passwords, clearing saved log in information, logging out at the end of a session, etc.).
  • Explain the steps you’re taking to restore security after the breach.
  • Inform the users about the steps you’re taking to protect network security from potential future breaches.
  • Let the users know when they expect to hear more from you and how they can get more information about the breach.

#3 Take Action Right Away

shredded paper with data leak written on paper scrap

Once your team verifies there is a breach, you need to start repairing it right away. You shouldn’t wait until there’s a network security breach to create your action plan. If possible, have your plan prepared well ahead of time. Improvising in these situations can lead to further breaches or allow the problem to become more severe. If you have a plan in place, you’ll be able to start the repair process immediately. If you do not have an action plan, some steps you should take immediately include:

  • Let your data recovery team do their jobs – don’t delete anything or hide information that may be valuable in restoring your network security.
  • Secure physical areas that may have been involved in the breach (change door access codes, locks, and/or close down the facility).
  • Take all breached machines offline.
  • Have involved employees change their passcodes and/or switch devices.
  • Talk to the people who reported the breach and make sure you have all the information about how they discovered the breach and exactly what happened.
  • Secure any websites (your own, ecommerce accounts connected to other websites, vendor site links, etc.), especially those accessed by clients and vendors who could be affected, and if necessary, take your website offline until the breach is repaired.
  • Sit down with your data recovery team and discuss next steps and how to avoid potential future breaches.

#4 Disclose Your Plan to Avoid Similar Breaches in the Future

Hacker using laptop

Just because you had one breach doesn’t mean others are inevitable. A major part of the process for recovering after a network security breach should be creating or improving your plan to avoid future breaches. Once you have a new plan in place, make sure you share that plan with your clients, employees, affected service providers, and other stakeholders. This shows you took the situation seriously and are making every effort to avoid future issues.

#5 There Will be Stories/Comments – Whose Story Will They Tell?

At the end of the day, the most important element of your data breach recovery plan may be communication. By staying in touch with your clients and stakeholders throughout the process and providing honest, clear information, your business can recover after a network security breach. If you wait to respond until after your clients or media outlets have already reported the story, your business will look like it’s trying to hide information, or perhaps even worse, you’ll end up looking like you didn’t take the security breach seriously and respond appropriately.  

IT ArchiTeks Can Help with Security

If you’re in need of help developing or maintaining a network security plan, IT ArchiTeks is here to help. Give us a call to learn more or set up a consultation and get a price quote and recommendations to improve your business’ network security. We can help you work through security breaches and plan to avoid future failures in network security.

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