What Should a Company Do After a Data Breach? | EasyDMARC

What Should a Company Do After a Data Breach?

9 Min Read

No company is 100% immune to data leaks. Cyberattackers are constantly improving their methods, and tech companies can only do so much to stay updated. No matter the industry or size of the company, everyone is a potential target online. 

Data breaches aren’t inevitable, but preventive measures go a long way. If you run a successful brand, you can’t overlook the importance of data loss prevention plans. If your DLP plans fail, it’s good to have a backup strategy to work on regaining trust after a data breach

Dealing with a data leak on a personal level is one thing, but what should a company do after a data breach? In this blog, we discuss the various options. We look at general practices to avoid financial losses and the best course of action to lessen the impact of a data breach. Ready? Let’s get started:

General Best Practices

Let’s get into an uncomfortable scenario for a moment: You’ve just learned your personal data has been leaked on the internet. It can be a data breach at your bank or your details exposed on a social network. You first need to consider that all cyberattacks have a single goal: Financial gain. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your accounts and watch out for any expenses you don’t recognize. 

Here are some of the actions you can take: 

Gain Control of Your Financial Accounts

One of the first steps after a data breach is to close the lid on your bank account. If your bank details have been compromised, call your bank and let them know. Be precise with the information you give them regarding dates and potential moments of fraudulent activity. 

That way, they may reimburse or reverse any unauthorized transactions.. While it doesn’t necessarily help, you should also file a police report so law enforcement is aware of the cyberattack. 

Change Bank Account and Card Information (If Exposed)

If you’re wondering how to protect yourself after a data breach, contacting your bank and freezing your financial products is a good start. Call your bank and suspend all credit or debit cards until you’ve secured your account. The best way to prevent this issue is by using a Unified Payment Interface, which is a tool that allows you to handle your bank details without ongoing input. You can also use online banking options such as virtual debit cards with a preset limit for specific expenses.

Freeze Your Credit Reports

One of the best steps after a data breach is to freeze your credit reports. Your credit information is usually collected by three separate bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These companies’ databases are very public and easy to access, making them an open buffet for malicious actors. 

You can have your identity stolen in a matter of moments, but a security freeze can protect you against a data leak. You only need to contact these institutions, and they’ll assign a PIN you can use to lock your credit. This blocks anyone from creating accounts to your name or asking for loans. 

Change Your Social Security Number (If Exposed)

Cyber actors can use your social security number to file tax returns in your name or to steal your identity and run a scam. The Federal Trade Commission has set up a website named identitytheft.gov. 

They help you with tips and advice to follow in case your social security number gets leaked online. The list of actions you can take after a leak is long, but so are the numbers of scams you can face. If the leak is too overwhelming on your finances, you may want to change your social security number. 

Reset Usernames and/or Passwords

Knowing how to protect yourself after a data breach means resetting all usernames and passwords immediately. It’s simple, but it works. A strong password can keep any potential attacker away. The best passwords are built with structured sentences, cases, and special characters. But never use the same password for multiple accounts. Get a trustworthy password manager if you have difficulties remembering all passwords.

For Businesses

Modern companies struggle to find the proper security measures for their data. That’s why so many fall victim to cyberattacks. The steps an organization takes to regain trust after a data breach are as crucial as the security measures taken to prevent data leaks. Here’s a list of actions every company should follow after experiencing a data breach, regardless of size.

Contain the Breach

You must first contain the damage when deciding how to protect yourself after a data breach. Disconnect all compromised servers,  computers, and devices from the internet and disable any remote access. Check their firewalls, ensure the systems are updated with the latest security patches, and change all passwords.

Assess the Damages

As a leader, it’s your job to know what a company should do after a data breach. First, check whether you’re the sole victim of the breach or if you’re dealing with a widespread attack. You also have to determine what caused the breach, so make sure to collect specific bits of information. Most importantly:

  1. Find out how the attack began.
  2. Identify employees with access to the infected systems.
  3. Learn which network connections were active when the breach happened. 

Fix Vulnerabilities

One of the steps to take after a data breach is to fix the vulnerability that caused the leak in the first place. Work with your IT department and a forensics team to determine how the breach happened. They can find out if any third parties are involved and the extent of the data breach.

After thorough evaluation, implement and test any short- or long-term vulnerability fixes to ensure the weakness has been adequately addressed.

Secure the Office Space and Other Physical Areas

Sometimes, data breaches come from within. Many cyberattacks are carried out by people accessing your company’s facilities posing as a messenger or employee. If you detect a data breach early on, implement lockdown protocols in your facility to prevent anybody on the premises from entering or leaving. It’s a long shot, but one that can help identify who the attacker is. 

Talk to the People Who Found the Breach

When you’re working on regaining trust after a data breach, information is key. You need to know exactly what happened and how. If someone on your team found the leak, make sure they tell the IT team everything they know. Go over the events more than once without leaving out any details. If you’re working with third parties, share any helpful information. 

Don’t Make Rash Decisions to Avoid Destroying the Evidence

Once you discover you’re the victim of a data breach, take your time to understand what happened. Don’t do anything irrational and contact your IT team immediately. It may be tempting to delete all data after an attack, but you could destroy important evidence required to evaluate how the data breach happened in the first place. 

Notify Affected Parties and Relevant Agencies

As you go down your checklist on what to do after a data breach, it’s time to let clients, business partners, and security agencies know about the attack. Make sure you follow any legal or regulatory data breach requirements. Large companies opt for press releases, but a small business must directly contact the parties involved.

Be as thorough and detailed as you can. Let them know how they’ve been affected and what assets have been compromised. Security agencies such as the FBI or the IC3 will want to understand the extent of damages and the security you had in place.

Set up New Security Measures

After a data breach, you must think of new ways to prevent data loss. The steps you take at this stage are crucial in regaining trust after a data breach in the public eye. Even the most sophisticated DLP strategies have a crack ready to be exploited by hackers. 

After facing a data leak, approach cybersecurity from a new angle. Set up new security measures better suited to your business. Your new DLP plan can include using password managers, creating solid backups, training your team on email security best practices, multi-factor authentication, and more. 

Update Security Breach Protocols

You’re often left wondering what to do after a data breach in terms of security. Since the protocols you had in place didn’t prevent the breach, it’s time to update them. This includes basic steps and some a bit more complex. Update your operating system and all security patches in any running software. 

Make sure your firewalls and antivirus programs are all updated too. Implement user access privileges, intrusion system detection, penetration testing, and vulnerability scanning measures.

Get Cyber Liability Insurance

One good step after a data breach is to get cyber liability insurance. This offers coverage options for businesses faced with cybersecurity issues. You can cover your company for loss of income due to downtime. You can also get coverage for costs related to recovering data, repairing any damaged equipment, investigation, litigation, fines, and crisis management expenses. 

Test Your Security

One of the critical aspects of regaining trust after a data breach is how quickly your company manages to get back online. Once you’ve implemented any short-term fixes, identify and test long-term solutions. 

 Perform regular penetration testing to ensure any new measures are effective and no vulnerabilities remain.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to protect yourself after a data breach can be more expensive than taking preventive measures. A data leak can drag your brand’s name through the mud. Very few companies manage to get back on their feet after these events. Cyberattacks have one goal—financial gain. That’s why keeping your data safe with proper password hygiene, a good antivirus solution, well-trained personnel, and the best DLP plan is important.

Dealing with a data breach requires work, and there’s no guarantee of a comeback after being hit. Your DLP strategy must contain the damage and determine what and how it happened. 

Communication between your IT team, clients, partners, and federal agencies should flow quickly and efficiently. Get cyber liability insurance and conduct regular penetration testing to make sure all vulnerabilities are addressed.

Various authors from EasyDMARC teams have contributed to our blog during company's lifetime. This author brings everyone together.


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