Unfortunately, any small business could face the risk of a data breach or cyber attack. Regardless of how big or small your business is, if your data, important documents or customer information is exposed, recovering from the aftermath could be difficult.
If your business is the victim of a cyber attack and you’re wondering what to do after a data breach, consider the following steps to help minimize the damage.
1. Contain the breach
While you may be tempted to delete everything after a data breach occurs, preserving evidence is critical to assessing how the breach happened and who was responsible. The very first step you should take after a breach is to determine which servers have been compromised and to contain them as quickly as possible to ensure that other servers or devices won’t also be infected.
Here are a few immediate things you can do to attempt to contain a data breach:
- Disconnect your internet
- Disable remote access
- Maintain your firewall settings
- Install any pending security updates or patches
- Change passwords
You should change all affected or vulnerable passwords immediately. Create new, strong passwords for each account, and refrain from reusing the same passwords on multiple accounts. That way, if a data breach happens again in the future, the damage may be limited.
2. Assess the breach
If you are one victim of a broader attack that’s affected multiple businesses, follow updates from trusted sources charged with monitoring the situation to make sure you know what to do next. Whether you’re part of a broader attack or the sole victim, you’ll also need to determine the cause of the breach within your specific facility so you can work to help prevent the same kind of attack from happening again. Ask yourself:
- Who has access to the servers that were infected?
- Which network connections were active when the breach occurred?
- How was the attack initiated?
You may be able to pinpoint how the breach was initiated by checking your security data logs through your firewall or email providers, your antivirus program, or your Intrusion Detection System. If you have difficulty determining the source and scope of the breach, consider hiring a qualified cyber investigator – it may be worth the investment to help protect yourself moving forward.
Identify those affected by the breach
You’ll also need to find out who may have been affected by the breach, including employees, customers, and third-party vendors. Assess how severe the data breach was by determining what information was accessed or targeted, such as birthdays, mailing addresses, email accounts, and credit card numbers.
Educate your staff about data breach protocols
Your employees should be aware of your business’s policies regarding data breaches. After discovering the cause of the breach, adjust and communicate your security protocols to help ensure the same type of incident doesn’t occur again. Consider restricting your employees’ access to data based on their job roles. You should also regularly train your employees about how to prepare for a data breach or avoid a data breach in the first place.
3. Manage the fallout
Notify managers and employees of the breach
Communicate with your staff to let them know what happened. Remaining on the same page with your team is crucial while your business is recovering from a data breach. You may need to consult with legal counsel to figure out the best way to let your customers know about the breach.
If you have cyber liability insurance, notify your carrier
Cyber liability insurance is designed to help you recover from a data breach or cyber security attack. Contact your carrier as soon as possible to see how they can help assist you with what to do after a cyber attack. If you don’t have a cyber liability insurance policy, AmTrust’s appointed agents can assist you in the process of selecting cyber liability coverage that could help with costs associated with addressing future cyber incidents.
Emphasize your willingness to be transparent with your customers by considering a special action hotline specifically to address questions from affected individuals. Communication can be key to maintaining positive, professional relationships with your patrons.
A data breach can be stressful, but as long as you take the right steps, your business will be better prepared to recover successfully. Moving forward, conduct frequent security checks to help reduce the likelihood of an incident occurring again in the future.
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