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    Steps to manage a data breach - ThreatAdvice

    Despite having the best security measures in place, data breaches are an all too real possibility for small businesses. What your company does in the wake of a data breach is just as important as taking the proper measures to prevent them.

    The Ponemon Institute reports that the average total cost of a data breach is $4.35 million. After a breach, companies can minimize the damage to both themselves and their customers by taking the proper actions.

    Common reasons for data breaches

    Data breaches happen when weaknesses in IT infrastructure are exploited by cybercriminals, with the most common types of vulnerabilities including: 

    • Human error when employees are victims of a phishing attack and share sensitive information with threat actors, or open files that are infected with malware
    • Weak passwords that are easy to guess or are used multiple times are common weaknesses, as well as not using multi-factor authentication or updating login credentials regularly
    • Lack of monitoring network and systems which leads to unpatched software, minimal compliance management of IT infrastructure, and unauthorized devices on the network.
    • Supply chain attacks come through third-party suppliers who don’t have well-managed security systems, allowing attacks to come through along the chain. 

    5 steps to managing a data breach

    1. Start your incident response plan

    Before your business needs to manage a data breach, have an incident response plan prepared. An IDR should cover what your organization, employees, and third parties need to do in the event of a data breach. This includes having an incident response team set up and ready to initiate the IDR in the event of a breach. Make sure the IDR team is clear beforehand about their roles and responsibilities, to avoid mistakes being made during the management of a data breach. 

    2. Preserve evidence of data breach 

    The first thing you should not do after a breach is to delete everything. Instead, you must ensure that any evidence of the breach is preserved. This can help you understand what occurred and who was responsible.

    It's critical to document everything that takes place, as it will make future forensic investigations easier.

    3. Contain the data breach 

    Your infected systems should not be deleted, but they should be contained. You must isolate the infected areas so that the rest of your business isn’t affected. This might be disconnecting the internet, disabling remote access capabilities, and changing access control credentials. 

    4. Handle communication about a breach

    Seek counsel from your legal team in order to determine the most efficient way to notify both your customers and the public about the breach. It is also crucial to be aware of the legislated time limits; you do not want to be penalized for not notifying the public in a timely manner.

    It is better for customers to learn about the data breach from you rather than from someone else. If you keep it a secret, it will seem like you are hiding something. Choose when to notify your customers, and remember that it is better to notify them sooner than later. Do not let employees inform them about the breach.

    5. Investigate breach and restore systems

    In order to prevent the same breach from occurring again, you must determine how you were hacked. A forensic audit, which is often required by your acquiring bank, can provide the answers. Because this process may be time-consuming, be prepared. Forensics may not only help you identify the source of the breach, but also help you avoid future incidents of the same kind.

    Once you’ve identified and addressed the source of the breach, you can bring all impacted systems back online. Ensure they are protected against future assaults by adhering to the PCI DSS completely.

    Additional tips for handling a data breach

    Some other things to think about in preparing for a data breach are:

    • Train and test employees:  It's a good idea to test your employees on how to handle a data breach and make sure they are familiar with the company's data breach policies.
    • Get breach protection:  Having cyber insurance can help reimburse you for the general costs associated with a breach (regulatory fees, card replacements, hardware, etc.). 
    • Be prepared: Having a well-planned and prepared security incident response plan that includes a response to a data breach is critical.

    Get ahead with data breach prevention experts

    Handling a data breach can be a challenging experience, but if you take the right actions, you can minimize the damage to your enterprise. Don’t wait for a breach to happen - with one single solution, you can assure yourself that your organization has all your data security needs covered with ThreatAdvice Breach Prevention Platform. Talk to the data protection experts today and reduce your security burden.