5 Easy Steps to Take When Your Small Business Suffers a Data Breach

By Dennis Shelly

The majority of today’s successful businesses are well aware of typical data security risks and place a high level of confidence in their efforts to prevent a data security breach. However, as recent security breaches at Target, LivingSocial, Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter have revealed, no set of security measures is immune to a breach. According to Ponemon Institute statistics, “the average aggregated total cost of a data breach has risen from $3.8 million to $4 million” in recent years. Companies can limit the harm to themselves and their customers by taking the appropriate procedures following a data breach. What today’s firms must consider is: what will you do if your security and data loss prevention procedures fail in the event of a data breach?

If your company has been the victim of a data breach and you’re not sure what to do next, take these measures to assist limit the damage:

1: Determine the Source and the Scope of the Breach


The first step is to determine the source and scope of the breach so that it may be addressed as soon as possible. You should ideally have intrusion detection and/or prevention systems (IDS and IPS) in place that can automatically log such security occurrences. Using these logs, you may determine the source of the breach, which files were accessed, and what actions the intruder performed. This information is critical for your future steps. If your network does not have IDS/IPS, gathering this information will take much more time and effort on the part of your IT team.

  1. Address the Breach As Soon As Possible

Your first objective in controlling a data breach should be to close all possible entry points for the breach and to halt traffic to the affected areas. This includes the following:

  • Network traffic rerouting
  • Obtaining a clean backup copy of essential data and transferring it to a new network
  • Disregarding the already compromised network
  • All passwords must be changed

You should also keep account of all fees and expenses associated with controlling the data breach since this will be required for filing a criminal complaint and a data breach insurance claim.

  1. Notify the Authorities as Well as ALL Affected Customers

Once you’ve put a patch in place and verified that it works, notify the authorities and notify any customers who may have been impacted by the incident. Federal authorities may be able to assist you with critical instructions for complying with your industry’s post-breach regulatory criteria.

Contacting consumers tells them that they may need to take steps to safeguard their identity, such as canceling credit cards and changing bank account details. This may be inconvenient for them, but it is preferable to be caught off guard by identity theft.

Three key parts of your notification when contacting consumers are:

Time. Customers will have more time to defend themselves from fraud if you notify them of a breach as soon as possible.

Information. Include as much information as possible regarding the type and scope of the breach. If client information has been compromised, notify them of the information that has been stolen.

Thoroughness. All impacted parties must be notified of the incident. If feasible, use more than one contact channel (email, phone, etc.) to ensure that all relevant parties are reached.

Be transparent and honest about the breach and the danger to your customers in your conversations with them.

  1. Customer and Public Relations Management

How you communicate the breach to your customers, vendors, and the general public can have a significant impact on whether your company survives or fails. It’s usual practice to send out an email, but it’s also a good idea to set up a contact center to address any concerns that impacted people may have. Accept responsibility, explain why the breach occurred, and the measures you are doing to set things right in your correspondence. It’s also critical that you explain how you plan to avoid this from happening again in the future and allow impacted persons to speak with your organization about the matter. Finally, include information on credit monitoring or any other service or special offer in your alerts.

  1. Prepare for Damage Control and Post-Breach Cleanup

A data breach can have long-term consequences even after the initial intrusion has been “fixed.” Following a breach, there is typically a loss of customer confidence, and regaining the public’s faith in your company may be challenging. You may decrease the cost of a breach by rapidly neutralizing it and reducing the impact of the breach. A small business data breach, on the other hand, can be costly and time-consuming to recover from.

A data breach may occur at any time, and small firms are frequently targeted. Don’t let another day go by feeling unprepared because you know your company is exposed to cyber-attacks. No doubt, a data breach is a difficult event for any organization, but it does not have to entirely impair your operations. You’ll be far more likely to recover from a data breach and resume business as normal if you create a detailed data breach response plan and ensure you have the appropriate insurance coverage in place.

Have a suggestion for our next article or need help after a breach or ensuring it doesn’t happen to you? Our Eggsperts are eggspert’s in data and network security and are standing by to help. Please contact us by calling (760) 205-0105 or emailing us at tech@eggheadit.com and our Eggsperts are happy to help you with your questions or suggestions.

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