One of the biggest issues today’s technology-driven offices face is the threat of a data breach that exposes sensitive information. From ransomware to trojans to spyware, there is no shortage of threats out there and they just keep getting more advanced.
Often the target of malware such as ransomware attacks are small businesses that might not have the same defenses or backup protocols in place as larger corporations.
71% of ransomware attacks in 2018 targeted small businesses.
We often hear about high profile data breaches in the news, like those at Equifax, Marriott, or CafePress, but what about smaller businesses? They may not get the same national exposure, but those breaches are just as damaging to the victim.
Many small businesses sign up for managed IT services that include network security because it’s an insurance policy against a data breach that could cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars and, for some, their entire business.
According to IBM security, the average cost of a data breach is $3.9 million, and those costs follow companies past the first year of the breach.
But a bright spot of that report shows that that if companies are properly prepared to respond, they can reduce their losses and the ongoing damage to their reputation.
Take These Steps if Your Network Has Been Breached
Below is a Data Breach Guide for small businesses to follow if they’ve experienced a data breach. Statistics show that the formation of an incident response team can reduce the costs of a data breach by $360,000.
Know what to do ahead of time before a data breach occurs so you can be prepared and act as quickly as possible in the event one happens to your business.
Step 1: Secure Operations
The first thing you want to do is stop the breach activity, which means securing your network and all entry points into it. While fully discovering the exact nature of a breach may take time, you can immediately do things like:
- Take breached systems offline
- Change all passwords
- Scan your network and devices for malware
- Move critical databases (such as those with credit card details or SSNs)
- Put firewall protection in place on a server
- Use a mobile device management program to secure smartphones and tablets
Your goal is to stop the leak of information and keep the hacker from getting back into your system.
Step 2: Identify the Extent of the Damage
Before you’re able to properly report the breach to data privacy regulators or those whose data was compromised, you need to understand the extent of the breach. This means determining what information was compromised.
Was it emails and passwords? Entire credit card numbers or just the last 4 digits? Addresses and phone numbers only? This type of information is critical and will most likely require the help of a technology professional doing IT forensics.
Step 3: Undo Any Immediate Damage
Certain breaches, such as one to a website server, can result in your email accounts being used to send thousands of spam messages or in your website being hijacked and sensitive information being posted on it.
After you identify the extent of the damage, any cleanup work that can be done should be addressed next. This could include things like:
- Requesting your email domain be taken off blocked spam lists
- Restoring your website to a pre-breach backup copy
- Contacting your server provider (if using a third-party) for help securing the server
Step 4: Fortify Your Vulnerabilities
Did the data breach occur due to an unpatched operating system? Then sign up for managed IT with patch/update management. Did it occur due to a phishing email being clicked on causing a malware download? Then you’ll want to address that by installing a strong anti-malware program that protects against phishing attacks.
Get a full security assessment by a third-party technology provider to understand where your network is at risk and how to fortify any vulnerabilities.
Step 5: Notify the Impacted Parties
Telling your customers that their sensitive data kept by your company was breached is not easy, but it’s necessary to helping them mitigate any negative consequences of the breach.
To help rebuild trust in your business, you’ll want to include the steps you’ve taken since the breach happened to address it and to prevent one from happening again. This will let your customers know you’re responsive.
In a breach notification, you’ll also want to include the details of exactly what type of information may have been compromised and the approximate date that you identified the information was exposed.
You can find a model breach notification letter at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.
Additionally, if you’re subject to HIPAA or other data privacy regulations, you’ll need to make the appropriate reporting. It’s also a good idea to report breaches to law enforcement so they can help in tracking down the perpetrator or at least make other businesses aware of the threat.
Get a Security Assessment from Cris’s Tech Repair Today
Can your small business network withstand a data breach? Find out with a security assessment to review the data security programs you’re currently using and identify any weak links in the chain.
Schedule an assessment today by calling 561-985-4961 or contacting us online.