Data breaches are a modern reality, and they’ll still be around in the new year. While it is obviously preferable for your business not to fall victim to one, that isn’t always something in your control. Therefore, it is better to have planned ahead, so that your operations can continue and you can more effectively keep your contacts apprised of the situation. Let’s discuss what you need to do.
But Wait, You May Be Asking, Isn’t It Your Job to Stop Data Breaches?
If you did ask that, you’d be right. Yes, part of our responsibilities as an MSP is to do what we can to prevent our clients from suffering a data breach through our proactive monitoring, IT maintenance, and user education. However, there is only so much that we can possibly do to prevent threats from getting in.
There are so many ways that an attack can sneak its way past our team and the defenses we’ll install. From a phishing attack, to zero-day threats and unreported vulnerabilities, to an employee losing a work device and not notifying anyone, there are quite a few opportunities for an attacker to wriggle their way in. Don’t get us wrong… our services greatly reduce such opportunities, but no matter what we do, we cannot make them go away.
In light of this, it is clearly important that we also share what you need to do if you do suffer a data breach, in addition to how you and your team can better avoid them.
The Four Steps to Data Breach Response
First: Notify Those Who Were Impacted
It’s important to remember that a data breach is going to impact more than just “your” data. You also have to consider the fact that you’re certainly storing data that belongs to a variety of other people and organizations. Naturally, you have a lot of your clients’ data, and you likely have some significant data collected on your vendors and your employees. A data breach therefore puts them all at risk.
Due to this, there are a lot of people you’ll have to notify if your business is breached, on the off chance that their data was impacted—and “have to” should be taken literally. All 50 states have some form of data breach notification legislation on the books, so regardless of where you are located or where you operate, you are legally required to make these notifications or face some considerable penalties.
Second: Make Amends to Those Who Were Impacted
Once you’ve made all the notifications you have to make, you should (or really, need) to make it up to these others. It is the very least you can do, after all. Offer them a complimentary service or a significant discount for their troubles. The last thing you should do is to move on like nothing happened. Honesty and transparency are the only viable option as you do everything you can to mend your business relationships.
Next: Figure Out Why the Breach Happened and Fix It
Of course, you need to do everything necessary to find the source of the breach and resolve it. We can help by conducting a comprehensive network audit that will help identify this access point, whether it’s a network issue or the result of an employee’s actions.
As soon as you know where the breach came from, you need to get rid of the vulnerability that allowed it… whether that involves updating and improving your defenses, and/or better training your team to keep your business safe. Naturally, you should also keep all those impacted by the breach up to speed on your progress to maintain transparency, without undermining anyone’s privacy.
Finally: Retrieve Your Data from Your Backup, and Improve
You need to remember that any data breach your business survives is an opportunity to do better, to learn from the mistakes you’ve made. Taking advantage of it as such is crucial to your success after a data breach. Once you’ve recovered any data needed from your business’ backup solution (to avoid working with any potentially tainted data), you can resume your operations as needed.
Of course, it is always, always, always better to avoid data breaches in the first place, so let’s review a few practices to help reinforce your business against any future attempts.
How to Avoid Suffering a Data Breach
Fortunately, there are quite a few ways that you can greatly reduce the likelihood of a serious data breach from impacting your business. Here are some that we frequently recommend:
You don’t need to worry about the attacks that can’t make it past your network’s protections, which is why it is important to implement a comprehensive array of protective measures (including spam blocking, firewalls, and antivirus) and ensure they remain updated as time goes on. Doing so will cut back on the number of threats that your team will deal with directly, cutting down on your level of risk.
Enlist Your Team’s Assistance
Your employees could easily be your business’ greatest weakness, so it is important that they are trained to be your greatest asset. Providing them with the education to know how to protect your company, and regularly evaluating their readiness to do so, will help to foil the cybercriminals who actively target a business’ users.
Stick to Best Practices
Speaking of employee training, your team needs to be aware of—and subscribe to—the accepted security standards that you establish. Your entire defensive strategy could be undermined by a single user making a poor choice of password, so don’t allow the possibility to create a vulnerability by enforcing standards that prevent that kind of thing from happening.
Keep an Eye on Current Events
Finally, it is important to keep an eye out for trends in cyberattacks. While not every threat is going to make the national news, seeking out stories from more niche sources can help to keep you aware of the threats going around at the moment. While proactive precautions are always a smart strategy, adjusting to current trends as they evolve can be valuable as well.
Trust Us to Protect Your Data
We’re aware how damaging a data breach can be, even if you’ve prepared for one, so let us help keep you from ever having to deal with these ramifications. Find out what we can offer through our cybersecurity solutions and services by calling (831) 758-3636.