Sooner or later, most businesses will be faced with a data breach, even smaller businesses. In fact, 60 percent of online attacks in 2014 targeted small and midsize businesses. This can spell financial trouble for smaller companies with the price of each compromised record rising to an average of $158 in 2016, according to the Ponemon Institute. But, when approached in a timely and educated matter, data breach recovery can run smoothly.
Forming Your Data Breach Recovery Team
In order to know the steps your company needs to take to fully recover from a data breach, it’s important to gather a team of well-seasoned experts. This team can immediately secure data and begin investigating the breach itself. One of your first steps should be to consult your IT department or expert. But, depending on the size and nature of both your company and the breach, you may also need to hire a data forensics team. This team will be able to determine the source of the breach as well as outline a plan for future cybersecurity improvements. It’s also important to report the attack to your local law enforcement, and possibly the FBI if ransomware is involved.
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Seeking legal counsel is also ideal when you’ve been the target of a data breach. While it may seem an unnecessary or unimportant step, consulting a legal professional should be a priority when a breach is first discovered. Since many countries now have, or are in the process of implementing, regulations regarding data breaches, legal counsel can ensure that your company complies with all laws. Legal counsel can also help plan the timing of notifying affected businesses and customers in a way that does not impede your investigation.
Investigating the Data Breach Itself
Unfortunately, most companies aren’t aware of data breaches immediately since data is typically slowly encrypted over a long period of time. On average, hackers will take up to 42 days before they start exporting data. That said, it’s important to act in a timely manner while investigating. While the exact steps to prevent further attacks will depend on the size and structure of your business and the nature of the attack, it is critical that your systems be secured immediately.
The most critical step to take is to secure your system against additional data loss. Any affected equipment should be taken offline, and you must monitor entry and exit points closely. Update your credentials and passwords in case they were stolen. Your forensics experts or local law enforcement may ask you to secure physical areas associated with the breach for investigation. Do a sweep of your website and the Internet to search for your company’s sensitive data, and have it removed as soon as possible.
Reevaluating Your Security
After your initial steps of securing data, it’s time to reevaluate your company’s security measures. If you’re working with a third-party service provider, you may reconsider what data they can access or if they are taking necessary precautions to prevent a breach. Work with your team to see if your system was properly protected to begin with. Add new protection in weak spots, such as strong authentication for sensitive data access. It’s important to communicate these new measures to employees and contractors to ensure they follow necessary procedures, and to consumers to restore trust.
Notifying Those Affected
Many parties may need to be notified of any breaches of data, and you may be obligated under law to do so within a certain amount of time. Any consumers or businesses whose information may have been leaked needs to be notified of what happened in a timely manner. Your legal consultant can advise you on what this will look like for your company since every organization and cyber attack is different. It’s a good idea to let consumers know what they need to do in order to protect their information in the future, such as changing (or getting rid of) their passwords.
And Finally, Data Breach Recovery Itself
It may take time for your company to build trust again after a breach, and you may experience financial loss during the data breach recovery process. Unfortunately, it’s estimated that half of small businesses that experience a breach with be out of business within six months, and large enterprises don’t fare much better, with potential financial losses of up to 50 percent. Creating a new security plan, strictly enforcing it, and allowing consumers to review new security measures as appropriate will all help gain trust once more. Of course, the best way to recover from a breach is not having one in the first place. Proper cybersecurity practices, using multi factor authentication with biometrics can drastically reduce your chances of suffering an attack. Investing in a strong authentication solution now can save time, money, and lost productivity in the long run.