Cybersecurity 101: Responding to and Recovering from a Data Breach

Companies of any size are prone to vulnerabilities on the Internet. These attacks can be as minor as someone outside your organization gaining access to your database or something huge like a denial-of-service attack.

Any online vulnerability puts your organization at risk. In a study by Centrify, 65% of customers lost their trust in a company after it suffers a data breach. Your business might also suffer financial losses, legal ramifications, and operational disruptions.

You could spend time and effort preventing a data breach from happening. But what do you do when a cyberattack hits?

Responding to a Data Breach

There’s no single way of dealing with a data breach because it will depend on each case. However, you can use these four key steps to guide you:

Step 1: Contain the data breach. Identify where the attack is coming from and shut down access points to prevent further compromise of business information. Recover records, revoke or change access privileges, and address weaknesses in electronic and physical security.

Step 2: Gather the facts and evaluate the risks caused by the breach, including its effect on affected parties. By creating a complete picture of the attack, you can understand the risk of harm to those affected, as well as take appropriate steps to reduce the impact of the breach.

Step 3: Notify your customers about the breach and let them know you’re working to secure their information. Depending on your state, you’re required to notify security breaches to law enforcement or the FBI. You might also have to inform the Federal Trade Commission and the media. In these cases, hiring a third-party service for public relations and social media might help you get your message across more effectively.

Recovering from a Data Breach

IT working on cybersecurity

Preparation is the key to preventing another data breach from happening. Here are vital preparations to protect your organization from a security incident:

1. Install an intrusion detection system

An intrusion detection system (IDS) monitors your network for any malicious activity. Once it detects something suspicious, the system informs the administrator and triggers a response that can contain the attack immediately.

2. Back up your data

Even if a data breach happens again, you want to make sure you can access your essential files. Store them in the cloud or create a separate network specifically for backup data. That way, you can continue operations even when you’re investigating a security incident.

3. Conduct frequent penetration testing

In a penetration test, cybersecurity experts intentionally try to break into your network. After the analysis, they’ll identify vulnerabilities in your system and suggest how you can mitigate the risks of a cyberattack.

4. Train your employees

Sometimes a security breach happens because an employee unknowingly clicked a phishing email or used a password that’s easy to crack. Send them regular reminders of protecting their information. You can also hold regular cybersecurity training to improve their skills in avoiding common risks.

No business wants to be the victim of a data breach. However, it can happen to any organization. When you become a victim of a cyberattack, quick response and recovery is the key to keeping your assets, profit, and customers.