Data breach response plan
Data breach response plan

They have become as common as phishing attacks in today’s world.

Yes, data breach is the thing every company is afraid of. Be it private, public, a startup or a Fortune 500 company, data breaches can be the doom of any online business.

Tons of valuable and potential data gets out in public and could end up in the wrong hands.

What’s more is that it could cost the company its reputation and millions of hard-earned dollars.

Remember that once a breach has taken place, it can only get worse.

Data leaks are easy to occur but can be extremely hard to control, especially if they are on a massive scale and discovered late.

The mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery during a breach are just like the disaster management policy of a country.

What is a data breach, why does it occur and how can you deal with it?

Data breaches are unfortunate incidents when someone unauthorised accesses your confidential data.

The reason behind the breach could be a ransomware, a phishing attack, a virus, a malware, or just an unsecured database on one of your networks.

The bigger and wider the company, the bigger is the damage done and the only way to control it is by taking precaution. There are many standard ways that you could deal with a breach like taking help of cyber security experts and following certain standardised guidelines.

However bad the situation, it is vital that every company has a procedure in place that outlines how to deal with a data breach.

Here, we provide you with certain useful steps that you can take in the unwanted event of a breach and help minimise the damage to your organisation.

1. Isolate affected systems

isolated systems data breach response plan

As soon as you know about a data breach, your first responsibility should be to take your systems offline and stop the malware from infecting more systems.

This will also stop the hacker from accessing more information from your servers and computers.

The faster you isloate your affected systems from the rest of your network, the more scope you have of containing the breach and minimising the damage. Remember that speed and time is of essence here.

2. Negotiate and recover

negotiate and recover

It is always a good idea to hire a professional negotiator in case the data breach is a result of a ransomware attack.

Someone who is experienced in ransom negotiating will make sure that you suffer the least financial loss and recover all of your data without being fooled again.

It is also a good idea to make sure you always have a negotiator at hand, even if you think you will never need one. (And if you think so, you are probably wrong).

Do you know that a ransomware attack occurs every 14 seconds and causes millions in losses every time?

Sometimes the loss can be so fatal and the recovery can be so unsuccessful that the business has to shut shop forever, like it was the case for the Heritage company.

3. Assess the damage

Take note of how much damage has been done, including your intellectual, reputational and financial damage.

Assessing your total damage accurately will not only help you be more transparent with your shareholders and customers, but also help you take further decisions wisely.

Tracking down the leaked data before it reaches the dark web markets could stop it from being sold to other hackers and used to target those who are exposed.

Keep in mind to do a thorough search and analysis of all the data that has been leaked.

4. Investigate

investigate data breach response plan

Once you are done with the damage assessing, move on to investigating the incident. The investigation could also be done parallelly to speed things ups.

Make sure you have notified all the concerned authorities (legal as well as public) about the incident so that investigations can be carried on from the official end as well.

Conducting a detailed investigation will help you deduce the reason for the breach and take necessary precautions in the future. Be ready to hire experts, including forensic investigators if you want to get the bottom of this.

5. Disclose and inform

disclose and inform

It is not only mandatory for companies to disclose any data breach but they can also be made to pay legal fines for letting the users’ privacy be compromised.

The disclosure, however, should be done in a way that it does not lead to more potential hacks.

Make sure that you do not disclose how the breach happened if you have not fixed it yet.

Doing so will lead other hackers to discover the flaw and launch another attack, thus putting your company and users’ privacy at further risk.

While disclosing, you also need to apologize and state clearly and accurately what information was leaked and how it could impact those who are directly affected.

6. Damage control

After you are done disclosing the breach to the public, start doing some damage control instantly.

This is mostly a difficult part of the breach management process.

You will need to take concrete steps to rebuild your goodwill among your shareholders and general public.

This does not mean that you can buy their trust again with false promises and fake apologies.

You will need to show concrete evidence of everything you have done and intend to do about protecting the interests of your customers in the future.

The companies that face a second data breach in a row, especially when they promised that they fixed their loopholes, are always the ones that face severe backlash.

7. Offer compensation

offer compensation

Offer some compensation to those who have been affected.

It shows that you realise your mistake and that you care enough to compensate for their loss, even if it’s just potential. Companies generally offer free cybersecurity services to the victim for a limited time, as compensation.

Not only is that relevant to the situation but also goes on to portray that you are willing to strengthen the online security of those who are at the most risk.

8. Feedback and fixtures

After all has been and done, you need to make sure that whatever caused that data breach has lost its capacity to harm your company ever again.

This includes fixing vulnerabilities, going through a security audit post breach, securing all your systems and networks, investing in high-end technology, training your staff against cybersecurity threats and even hiring a team of cybersecurity experts for the future.

It is true that the real work comes after the data breach is over, because a single data leak can make you doubt every security measure that you have taken so far.

We hope that you never have to apply these steps in real life but it is always wise to stay informed.

Let us know if we missed anything that you think can be done to deal with a data breach.

Also, while you are here, check if you are making any other mistakes in your cybersecurity.

Share this helpful information with your colleagues and friends.

Keep watching this space for more help on your cybersecurity.


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