There’s no doubt that cyber attacks and data breaches have become more common than ever before, with more than 66% of businesses falling victim in recent years. These attacks get larger and impact more people as the frequency increases as well, reportedly affecting 2.3 billion users in 2017 alone. This escalation of cybercrime puts businesses and individuals on high alert and increases the need to implement online security measures in order to protect sensitive information. Luckily, there are proven steps you can take preemptively and in reaction to a breach that will minimize the damage in the case that an attack does occur. A few of these preemptive measures include knowing what risks look like, installing firewall and antivirus technologies, creating a file backup and recovery plan, creating strong passwords, locking down mobile devices and utilizing administration access. Following suit with the preemptive precautions, there are many reactive measures you can take in response to an attack to minimize the negative impact on your business, employees and customers. Here are a few of those reactive tips that can help your business build its defenses against and respond to cyber attacks should one occur:
Contain the problem
Should an attack infiltrate your systems, the most important thing to do is start acting and recovering the very moment you discover the breach. According to a cyberattack study released by the Joint Technology Committee, most affected companies are unaware that they’ve fallen victim to a cyber breach for 200 days after the initial attack. Once you’ve discovered the breach, take action to contain the problem by resetting passwords, identifying and disconnecting affected hosts, applying security patch software, removing all files affected by the attack and reinstalling those once confirmed clean, and implementing file recovery software. The main goal of this containment is to ensure more individuals aren’t affected by the breach moving forward. Conversely, on the front end, having certain security software set up ahead of time will help reduce the amount of time it takes for you to recognize your systems have been breached.
Inform those affected in a timely manner
As soon as your defenses have been put up and the bulk of the problem has been contained, the next step is to create a communication plan to inform external individuals affected. No matter what business sector your company is in, chances are that a significant group of employees or customers were affected by the security breach. Because of this, you’ll want to let people know in a timely manner to avoid them finding out through a third party or through the nasty rumor mill. Rather than neglecting your customers, employees or clients affected by the breach, address the issue head-on with necessary information about how the breach started and what you’ve done to alleviate the impact. Doing this will help increase trust and protect your reputation during a vulnerable time full of potentially negative implications. If you don’t have an internal public relations team to formulate the most appropriate response possible, work with an external public relations consultant to ensure you use the right language, message, and solution for the situation.
Tighten legal defenses
Once you have informed all individuals affected by your breach in security, consider tightening your legal defenses to prepare for potential legal cases that can arise. Chances are that a handful of your customers, employees or clients affected by the breach will feel negatively impacted and choose to file a lawsuit. To help you combat these cases, enlist the help of experienced legal professionals to tighten your defenses and lighten your anxiety at the same time. Be sure to check all potential legal partners’ credentials for relevant past experience, as you surely will want the most knowledgeable legal team on your side to secure success. Another beneficial practice for dealing with cybersecurity breaches is to proactively establish positive relationships with your local law enforcement officers and government representatives. This way, you’ll have a direct point-of-contact to contact and work within the case that an attack occurs. These relationships can help you expedite action by directly being in contact with the people that can help alleviate problems or being personally directed to the right professionals.
Update technology to prevent future breaches
Once you’ve taken the previous steps and are moving toward returning to normalcy at work, you will want to reflect on your experience in order to learn and improve for the future. One of the most crucial aspects of dealing with an information breach is minimizing the possibility of future breaches. To successfully do this, you must first target the point of entry where the infringement started. Determine what exactly was weak about that point of access and update the technology or security measures in place to ensure it doesn’t cause harm to your business again. From there, you’ll want to update and enlist the right systems to lock down all of your devices and digital points of entry. One of these systems that should be updated to keep information secure is your collaborative communication tools as they deal with the transfer of business documents every day. These devices, if not locked down correctly, can be weak points for hackers to access because of their ability to be used across multiple devices. Upgrading to a certified secure system allows you to keep only essential individuals in and hackers out. You’ll also want to upgrade your antivirus and antimalware software to serve as a guard at your doors that will make it more difficult for thieves to access your classified information. You’ll also want to implement a new backup and recovery plan, as mentioned before, and utilize the second form of email encryption so that your information is secure coming in and leaving a pipeline.
As the internet evolves and cyber criminals get smarter, having cybersecurity knowledge and solutions in your toolbelt will help you keep your systems locked down. Be sure to update your software as necessary to keep your devices as protected as possible by evolving with the technology, and be sure to re-educate your team on these updates. Once you have the initial precautions and tools we discussed in place, you should sleep a little sounder knowing that you have the proper devices in place to recover from any potential cyber attack.