Knowing how to properly handle a data breach is a useful skill that every professional must eventually master, but far too many business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs are completely ignorant when it comes to IT security. Those who want to prevent malicious outsiders from breaching their networks and making off with sensitive information need to know what to be looking out for, and what common mistakes they’ll need to avoid making.
Here’s how to handle data breaches, and the frequently-made mistakes that could end up costing you big.
Brief your team
No professional can handle a data breach by themselves – if your rank and file workers aren’t thoroughly trained on how to prevent data breaches in the first place, nothing you can do will bolster the reputation of your company’s digital security. Many small business owners consider IT training to be a useless addition to their budgets and thus needlessly shy away from it. With small businesses rapidly becoming the normal target for hackers to exploit, however, it’s imperative that entrepreneurs everywhere approach IT security with a more serious attitude if they want customers to remain loyal.
The best way to bolster the first line of defenses guarding your business is to host regular training session for your employees. From your rank and file workers to your senior management officials, everyone must be thoroughly immersed in a security culture that champions encrypted devices, challenging passwords, and routine network audits. Many businesses suffer from multiple data breaches because they refuse to run network audits after an initial calamity, so make sure you know what to look for in a network security audit in order to learn from your mistakes.
There’s no amount of preparation in the world that will prevent all forms of data breaches, however, as our digital age is effectively defined by hacking and security slip-ups. Once a data breach has occurred, you’ll need to move quickly and have a flexible emergency response in order to avoid turning a small problem into a huge disaster.
Reacting to a data breach
The first step in handling a data breach is determining where things went wrong. You should immediately review your list of employees who have access to critical information or security infrastructure and determine who made a mistake and when. Extensive logs will need to be kept in order to make this as easy as possible for your IT team, so don’t sleep on investing thoroughly in proper IT infrastructure if you’re serious about managing these breaches.
The next step is handling disclosure; the public will likely need to know, especially if sensitive consumer information was lost. It’s vitally important that business owners know not to try hiding their data breaches; covering up a data breach is never a good idea, as it will generate tremendous negative press coverage and could put your business in legal jeopardy depending on what information was stolen. Have your PR team on hand to help skate by this crisis and consider having some pre-written protocols that will make the entire emergency management crisis easier once a data breach has occurred.
At this stage, it’s worth running an audit using a VPN for India to determine if sensitive information in particular was taken. If so, take time to alert those who need to know, as data breaches can ignite time-sensitive problems.
Finally, you need to start taking steps to prevent another breach from happening in the future. In the immediate aftermath of a data breach, ask yourself if your IT budget needs some inflating or if employees are really receiving thorough security training. It may be worth expanding your team of tech specialists or relying on third-party expertise, as some businesses find network security too burdensome to cope with as they grow. Always consider that you’ll need to scale your security operations to accommodate for future growth if you do decide to go it alone.
Data breaches can cause a mass panic at any business, and your employees will need steady leadership and transparent protocols if they’re to weather an IT crisis effectively. Don’t hesitate when it comes to investing in your digital security well ahead of time, and never attempt to brush data breaches under the rug instead of addressing them in the eyes of the public. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be deftly turning your next data breach into a useful learning and PR exercise in no time.
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