How to respond to a data breach

How to respond to a data breach

A data breach is the last thing any business wants to happen in a volatile economy, which is why they must constantly watch out for such threats. Almost every company and individual has been targeted before, even if they don’t know it, and many attacks are successful. As cybercrime continues to evolve, so does the importance of having a comprehensive incident response plan. Here’s how you should respond to a data breach:

#1. Find out what was stolen

The moment you learn about a potential data breach, the first step is to figure out which data was stolen. Start by isolating the systems targeted before determining what sort of data they held. Next, you’ll need to classify the information stolen. The least sensitive information is any that’s publicly available, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored, since even gaining access to such data can lead to a bigger issue. Stolen payment details are more sensitive, even if cardholders themselves are protected from liability. The most sensitive data includes things like social security numbers, payment card security codes, and patient health information in the case of healthcare providers.

#2. Secure affected accounts

Once you’ve identified where the stolen data lies, you’ll need to isolate and disconnect any affected systems, whether they reside locally or in the cloud. You should immediately spread the news to all your employees and have them change their passwords for all the accounts they use for work, even if those accounts weren’t attacked.

Employees should never reuse a password for multiple accounts either. To provide an extra layer of protection, consider getting your employees to use a second authentication layer to access accounts and devices, such as a fingerprint scan or a temporary SMS authentication code. Implementing single sign-on can also help reduce complexity by reducing the single points of failure.

#3. Inform anyone affected

Businesses have a legal and ethical duty to inform anyone whose data might have been stolen while in their care. Of course, this can be damaging to your reputation, but the costs of covering it up are much higher, not to mention illegal. Depending on the compliance regulations concerning your industry, you may also have to inform the authorities and, in the case of larger breaches, a local media outlet.

Not only is being transparent from the moment you learn about a breach the right thing to do, but it will also give your customers and stakeholders enough time to protect themselves. Often, people put more weight on how organizations respond to a data breach than the effects of the breach itself.

#4. Trace the attack

Once you’ve isolated the systems and data stolen and informed everyone concerned, it’s time to figure out what went wrong. Almost all attacks start with a social engineering scam, which is why you’ll want to start by interviewing your employees to determine whether any of them discovered anything suspicious.

In other cases, there might be no human element involved. Sometimes, hackers work surreptitiously to get malware onto your systems, often by exploiting vulnerabilities in things like outdated software or poorly configured systems. If tracing the attack proves too difficult, you’ll likely need to get an expert on board who can provide a detailed risk and vulnerability analysis for your entire computing infrastructure.

Once you’ve discovered the source of the attack, make sure you implement strategies to ensure it never happens again. This could involve training employees regularly on safe web practices and social engineering scams, updating your systems regularly, or deploying more powerful threat prevention systems. Ultimately, taking time to study the attack in depth will boost the overall resiliency of your network.

Founders Technology Group provides proactive information security, spam protection, and vulnerability assessments to help you increase your resilience to cyberattacks. Call us today to schedule your assessment.