Surviving a data breach – a short guide for entrepreneurs

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Digital Privacy data breaches
Digital Privacy data breaches

According to recent reports, the number of data breaches worldwide has increased significantly over the past few years, costing companies a lot more than money. The widespread adoption of remote or hybrid work models, poor IT infrastructure, the complex regulations regarding data privacy and the fact that hackers have refined their intrusion strategies seem to be the main factors contributing to the sharp increase in data breaches.

This should be enough to keep entrepreneurs on their toes, given that no one is safe from the data breach epidemic. However, not everyone is aware of the magnitude of the problem. Smaller companies often think they are less prone to this sort of attacks, when in fact the data shows that the exact opposite is true. Startups and small businesses are the preferred targets for hackers because their security systems tend to be less solid and sophisticated, giving them a free pass to accessing sensitive data that they can use to their advantage.

Falling victim to a data breach is definitely not a pleasant experience for any of the parties involved. Between realizing that your company’s data has been compromised, the employees or customers that have been affected by the incident and the authorities that are pressuring you to provide answers, it can be extremely difficult to pull yourself together and decide what to do next. But the actions you take in the aftermath of a data breach can make a world of a difference to your company’s chances of survival.

So, if you want to keep your business afloat and increase your chances of recovery after such a daunting event, here are a few important aspects to keep in mind.

Have a plan 

It’s always best to prevent rather than treat, which is why your company should take all the necessary measures to reduce the likelihood of a data breach as much as possible. Having a good security system in place, keeping up to date and complying with the data protection requirements in your industry, getting all your team members onboard with cybersecurity, and constantly working on improving your defences should help a lot in this respect.

However, you also need to take into account the possibility of being affected by a data breach. In this case, you need to develop a response plan that will help you limit losses and save whatever can be saved. This plan must lay out all the steps you need to take during a crisis caused by a potential data breach, as well as the roles and responsibilities of each team member, so if you ever find yourself in such a situation, you’ll no exactly what to do and waste no time in responding.

Time is of the essence 

If despite your best efforts, your company fell victim to a data security breach, you’ll have the unfortunate opportunity to test the efficiency of your data breach response plan. As you work through cleaning the mess created by the incident, it’s important to keep all lines of communication open and ensure proper collaboration with all the key players inside and outside your organisation.

This will help you identify the threat, isolate it and fix it in a timely manner, and as you may assume, time is of the essence in these situations. Prompt action will not only enable you to reduce damages, but it’s also going to win you a few points with the media and the public, as it will give evidence of responsibility and professionalism.

It’s also crucial to be transparent in the aftermath of a cybersecurity attack and inform all the affected parties about the incident. Delaying to do so, or offering only pieces of information will have people thinking you’ve got something to hide or that your role in the incident was greater than you want them to know.

Keep your customers informed 

There will be a lot of things happening in the weeks and months following a data breach. You may be contacted by the hackers responsible for the data, you may be able to recover part of the data you’ve lost or you may have to deal with countless compensation claims from angry customers. If the data breach was caused by your own negligence, clients have the right to take legal action and claim compensation for the damages they’ve suffered, which you can learn more about at https://www.howmuchcompensation.co.uk/.

Since your customers are probably the most affected parties, you need to keep them in the loop and inform them of every action you take to remediate the situation and any events that might be revenant to them.

Assess your losses 

Determining the cause of the problem and doing your best to fix the damages can only help to some extent. There’s no way you can know if your response plan worked or not or what other steps you need to take to address the data breach unless you take the time to assess your losses.

This means you need to look back at the progression of the events and analyse every step you’ve taken so far and their results, from the time it took you to identify the issue to how your team responded and the interactions you had with each affected party. This will help you refine your response plan and become better prepared in the future.

Develop a media strategy 

It’s not just what you do in the event of a data breach that matters, but also how the public perceives you. Once your company’s reputation gets tarnished by a data breach, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to restore its image and win back customers’ trust. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible.

If you focus on developing a good social media strategy and establish a good relationship with the press and the outlets that are covering your story, you’ll have far better chances of getting your company back on track at some point.