Key Steps to Take After a Data Breach for Businesses and Individuals
Data breach is a term that can send shivers down the spine of any business. For a business, only a few situations are worse than having its important and confidential data accessed without authorization. The reason why businesses have to worry the most about data breach is because they tend to store a huge amount of user data in their data repositories, this includes data of their personnel as well as customers.
But hackers not only target companies, they target individuals too. When the hackers manage to get their hands on an individual’s data, they could use it in any number of ways. If the information is finance related like bank account or credit card details, they could use it to steal money. If it’s personal information like social security number, then they might commit identity theft.
It’s evident that nothing good can ever come out of a data breach. While preventative stance is certainly the best way to fight against data breach, it’s also necessary to have a recovery approach in place. So that if a data breach does happen, its devastating ripple effects can be controlled and it is possible to recover from the breach as quickly as possible. Here are some key steps that must be taken immediately after a data breach has occurred:
Steps to Take for Businesses
Put an End to the Breach Quickly
As a business, if you’ve been a victim of a data breach, the first thing that you should do is prevent the breach from doing any more damage than it has already done. This step is called containment and it could mean different things for different kinds of data breach attacks. For example, it may require you to separate an affected system from the network, disable the hacked accounts of users, or freeze any associated operations for the time being. When you have ensured that the breach can not spread any further, you can begin working on rehabilitating the affected areas by using suitable techniques to obliterate the factor causing data breach.
Take Stock of the Damage That Has Happened
The second step is to determine what kind of damage has resulted from the breach. This means pinpointing exactly what data has been stolen. Is it email address, password, payment card details, phone number, messages, or any other personal or contact information? Remember that you will need to share this information when you break the news of a data breach to your users. You will have to inform and warn the users about their compromised data, so you’ve got to be as precise as possible in this step. This brings us to the following step that you absolutely shouldn’t forgo post data breach.
Inform Users and Apologize to Them for the Breach
You have a duty to your users and the data that they entrust you with. So if a security incident like a data breach has taken place, users deserve to know because they are affected by the incident directly. It’s natural for you to worry about the dent that the news of data breach could cause to your reputation. But, the sooner you come forward with the news and assure your users of the efforts you are taking to recover from the breach, the better chance you have at earning back their trust.
Implement a Revised and Better Security Plan
What’s done is done, you can’t really reverse the data breach. But what you can do is ensure that such a situation never arises again. Work with your managed security services provider to understand what went wrong this time. Was there any hidden vulnerability in the system? Did an employee commit an honest mistake? Try to figure out why the data breach happened in the first place. Because when you do know the reason, you can fix it. You could use a security patch if it was a vulnerability in the system. If it was a negligence by an employee, then you could work on training all your employees better in cybersecurity. Here is a guide that explains employee cybersecurity training in detail: "Train Your Employees in Cyber Security". The idea is for you to take a long, hard look at your security strategy, find the weak points in the strategy, and fix them so that a data breach doesn’t happen again.
Steps to Take for Individuals
Substitute All Old Login Credentials with New Ones
For individuals, you should change the username and password for your hacked online account as soon as possible. If you keep the login credentials the same even after knowing that the account has been compromised, then you’re basically inviting the hackers to keep breaching your privacy. Therefore, substitute your old login credentials with new ones and make sure that the new credentials are stronger than before. In addition to the username and password, if your hacked account has saved answers for security questions, then change those too. Moreover, if you have used these credentials for any account other than the hacked one, then change the credentials for that account too.
Keep an Eye on Your Bank Accounts and Credit Cards
If your hacked account had any payment related information, then there is a risk that your bank account or credit card will be hit next with unauthorized use. Hence, after the data breach pay extra attention to the activities in your bank accounts and on your credit cards. Whatever financial institution you are associated with, now is the time to reach out to them and let them know about the possible risks that you’re facing in the aftermath of the data breach. Canceling your credit card altogether and getting a new card in its place may give you a big relief. You could also go for a credit monitoring service to ensure that any instances of fraud or suspicious activity are caught in time.