Cybersecurity | March 2, 2023

What To Do After a Cybersecurity Breach

At least 45% of companies in the US have experienced a cybersecurity breach at some point. Is your business part of the unfortunate 45%? If your business in Chicagoland has experienced a cybersecurity breach, you already know that the headaches can quickly mount up.

However, a data breach doesn’t have to get you down (or affect your business’s bottom line for a long time). A few steps to take after a data leak or security incident can help get your physical and digital operations back on track.

That’s why we’ve created this helpful guide. With the correct information at hand, we’ll make managing a serious situation seem casual; bear with us as we try our best to battle the blues of getting breached with some lighthearted advice.

What Is a Data Breach?

A data breach is a term used in business to describe an incident where sensitive data has been:

  • Leaked
  • Stolen
  • Otherwise misused

This data can range from payment information to customers and even proprietary company data. Yikes, right? We agree that these types of cyber threats are dangerous. However, there’s an important distinction between a cybersecurity breach or attack and a data breach.

Not all cybersecurity attacks are data breaches; while data breaches could result from cyberattacks, they can also occur when an outside party gains access to data without malicious intent or when data is recklessly exposed due to insufficient security measures.

Either way, businesses of all sizes need to remain vigilant and take steps to prevent data breaches by using advanced security protocols such as encryption and authentication. Before we dive into how to stay vigilant with a cyber attack plan, let’s dive more into just how these attacks can affect your business operations.

The Dangers of a Cyber Attack

Hackers are increasingly targeting companies to access confidential data and use it for their gain. Cyber attacks allow criminals access to information like:

  • Customer credit card information
  • Employee records
  • Banking login details
  • Sensitive business contracts
  • Client information

Any cyber attack can cost companies thousands of dollars in repairs and downtime, pose a reputational risk to the business, and provide cybercriminals with valuable information about the company that could be used for fraud or identity theft. If that sounds like a big deal to you, it’s because it is.

Understanding the dangers of a cyber attack is often the first step in protecting your company against one. For most small to mid-sized businesses, here are three of the biggest (and most expensive) threats when you expose yourself to a cybersecurity breach.

Lost Data

Not only do cyber criminals pose a threat to your sensitive data, but they also put customers’ data at risk if it’s held in their systems. Cyber attacks lead to the loss of important and confidential data, which can be more than just financial information; hackers often have access to:

  • Important contracts
  • Invoicing details
  • Internal emails
  • Relevant documents related to business operations

When cybercriminals gain access to this kind of data, it can harm reputations and customer relationships and even cost companies financially. This could lead to potential fines from regulatory agencies, but it also puts the trust of your customers in danger.

Business Interruptions

If a hacker accesses business data, alters business processes, or even brings down business networks or systems, your business, and its operations inevitably suffer. Even if there is no immediate financial loss, it could take weeks or months to restore the business’ operations and systems, resulting in critical business interruptions.

Sure, these types of business disruptions cause delays in scheduled activities. However, they can also hamper productivity, which may result in further losses to the business.

Expensive Data Recovery

Finally, cybersecurity breaches can be expensive to fix. The costs associated with them often depend upon the attack type. For example, hackers stealing sensitive information may require data recovery services to restore lost or corrupted data. Some of these services might involve restoring backup files, rebuilding servers and applications, or recovering and examining logs.

In addition, businesses will need to invest considerable money in repairing any damage caused by the breach and paying for any future preventative systems and technologies. All in all, a cybersecurity breach can lead to expensive data recovery that could damage a business’s financial state if not handled correctly.

How to Respond to a Cybersecurity Breach

While our top recommendation is to take a proactive approach to any cyber threat, we know that not every business is as prepared as it should be. If you don’t have a cybersecurity plan and have suffered a cybersecurity breach, follow these steps to help get your business back on track.

Contain the Cybersecurity Breach

Swift action is critical to reducing damage and preventing the breach from spreading. We know that it might feel scary. However, the longer you wait to take action, the worse the effects of the attack can be.

First, identify what caused the breach and assess its scope. You can often do this by closely monitoring logs containing changes that may indicate malicious activity. Once you locate the cause, contain the breach with an isolation strategy. Or, use a third-party tool like a firewall to block malicious traffic from accessing your system.

Finally, they must institute a remediation plan such as strengthening security protocols or restoring from backups to ensure you eradicate all suspicious activities on the system.

Assess the Damage

Once you’ve contained the threat, it’s time to assess the damage. The first questions you should ask are:

  • Who had access to the servers?
  • Which network connections were active at the time of the breach?
  • What information has been affected, leaked, or compromised?

This can help clarify potential weaknesses in access security and whether any user accounts were improperly handled. Data logs from your firewall or email providers, antivirus programs, and an Intrusion Detection System can also provide helpful insight that you can use to prevent similar breaches in the future.

Notify People of the Attack

After you’ve contained the breach and assessed the damage, you’ll want to notify others of the attack and its effects. It’s essential to wait to do this until you and your core team fully understand what happened. Wait until you have all the information to inform others to avoid panic or fear.

Notify your employees first so that everyone is aware of the breach. Ensure they understand the subsequent steps the company takes to mitigate it. Not only does this provide them with important information, but it also boosts morale and trust in the organization by being transparent about the incident.

Notifying customers afterward is also crucial. They must know the situation to monitor their accounts or other exposed details. How can you inform customers in a way that doesn’t cause panic?

Speak clearly about what happened while regretting that a security incident occurred on your watch. Then, discuss the measures you’re taking to prevent this from happening again. This lets customers know you take cybersecurity seriously and will do everything possible to protect them.

Follow Your Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan is a vital tool in the event of a cybersecurity breach. If you have one, you’ll want to follow it. If you don’t have one, you’ll want to start making one.

This plan outlines actions that your team should take to get your business running after an incident, including assessing immediate damage, communicating with staff and customers, and recovering business operations.

A good business continuity plan should include the following:

  • Procedures for responding to threats and incidents
  • Inventory of resources needed for business recovery
  • Ways to transfer business activities
  • Strategies for re-establishing secure access to systems

The plan aims to minimize any disruption caused by an incident and help ensure your business remains competitive even during a crisis. If you’re unsure where to start, ask a qualified IT solutions company.

Use Safe Backups

Finally, as you recover from a cyber attack, use safe backups to restore information and data. A safe backup system gives your business time to analyze the situation and decide on an appropriate action or solution. Without the use of a safe backup, the data is then gone. It’s completely unrecoverable.

With secure backups, your business can minimize losses and quickly regain control over its systems. Trust us. In this situation, you’ll be grateful you had safe backups.

How to Create Great Cybersecurity Breach Protocols

Even if you have a cybersecurity plan, now’s a great time to reassess (or implement) your protocols. It’s important to customize these protocols to your specific organization, taking into account the following:

  • Types of data collected
  • How your business collects data
  • How your business stores data

To create effective protocols, focus on four key areas:

  • Access control
  • System maintenance
  • Employee training
  • Incident response

What does each of these key areas mean?

Access control means establishing strict access levels and enforcing them. System maintenance focuses on regularly checking systems for weaknesses and patching any vulnerabilities discovered. Employee training educates staff about potential threats to minimize human error incidents.

Finally, an incident response plan outlines how your organization should react when a breach has occurred. It should include clear directions for responses across all departments. It should also indicate who is responsible for what and the steps each employee or team needs to follow.

We know this might seem like a lot. But by focusing on these critical components, you’ll ensure your company has the best protection against future cyberattacks.

The Verdict: Should You Invest in Cybersecurity Services?

Understanding what to do after a cybersecurity breach is essential, no doubt. However, as mentioned above, we always suggest a more proactive approach. In a world where the average cyber attack costs a business $164 per breached record, doing so can pay off big time.

Cybersecurity services are important tools for any business in this digital age. Cybersecurity services help protect your company’s data from malicious attacks and cybersecurity risks, like hacking or viruses. Investing in cybersecurity services can help reduce the cost of repairing networks or systems that such threats may damage.

Additionally, cybersecurity services can monitor sensitive information and detect security gaps. This will ensure your business remains compliant with external regulations.

The bottom line? Investing in cybersecurity services ensures that your business’s information and data remain secure and competitive. While it is an expense you’ll have to budget for, viewing it like any other vital business expense is helpful. Lump it into the same category as business insurance or security for your office.

Get Help With Managed IT Services

What have we learned from this helpful guide? Taking a reactive approach to IT can be extremely dangerous and costly. This is especially true when cybersecurity breaches of today can have such detrimental impacts on businesses.

At Empist, we use a proactive methodology for our clients. We ensure their systems are secure and operational, minimizing downtime and increasing productivity. By getting in touch with us, you can prevent cybersecurity breaches from ever occurring in the first place.

We’ll evaluate your systems and take the necessary steps to ensure tight security protocols are set up. Don’t risk it; avoid cybersecurity nightmares using Empist’s reliable services now. Click here to start a conversation.