5 Steps to handling a data breach like a pro

With data breaches hitting the headlines every day, many people have become desensitized to them. This isn’t helped by the fact that most attacks that do make the news are those targeting large enterprises, thus leading many small business leaders to believe they’re not attractive enough targets to hackers. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, since small companies often present a sweet spot to attackers who view them as easier targets that still offer substantial rewards.

Many breaches have cost victims their entire business, which is why companies must take every possible measure to protect against the threats and mitigate the damage caused by attackers who do manage to infiltrate their network.

Here are five steps towards minimizing the damage before it gets out of control:

#1. Contain the breach

On average, data breaches go unnoticed for more than six months, often after irreparable damage has already been done. It’s crucial to contain the breach as soon as possible since even a small delay can exponentially increase the damage to your organization.

Isolate compromised systems, such as hacked user accounts or physical assets that have been infected with malware. You should also block any IP addresses from which the attack originated.

#2. Assess the damage

Assess the damage and figure out how hackers managed to gain access to the affected systems in the first place. Starting with a thorough analysis of the compromised system, you’ll need to work your way back to the source of the attack as well as determine which data was affected. Most attacks begin with a phishing scam, so you’ll want to interview your employees to find out if they’ve noticed or interacted with any suspicious emails. You’ll also need to determine the value of the information stolen, learn who it pertains to, and which, if any, compliance regulations it’s subject to.

#3. Notify relevant parties

In cases where customer information, such as personally identifiable data, patient health data, or payment card data, was stolen, you have a legal and ethical duty to warn affected parties so that they have a chance to take the steps necessary to protect themselves. Larger breaches may require you to alert the authorities as well as a major media outlet. You should also notify any other relevant third parties. Regulations require you to report the date the breach was discovered, which data was stolen, and what affected parties need to do to protect themselves.

Although it may be tempting to keep cybersecurity incidents under wraps, coming forward early is better for your business in the long run. Because if external parties discover the breach before your company releases a statement, it can seriously damage your reputation.

#4. Audit your network

Conduct a thorough security audit and threat analysis so you can take the necessary steps to protect against future attacks of the same type. If, like most breaches, the attack started with a phishing scam, you should ensure all your data is encrypted and protected with at least two user verification layers. You’ll also need to train your employees to better identify future risks.

#5. Roll out your recovery plan

To get compromised systems back up and running as soon as possible to minimize the effects of unscheduled downtime, you must have a data backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan in place. You may need to update your BDR plan to provide better protection against future attacks.

Protect yourself from data breaches by partnering with Netwize. We bring 20 years of business technology experience to the table to drive real growth and reduce the risks associated with digital transformation. Call us today to learn more.

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