While you may think large organizations are the main target of cyberattacks, small businesses are at risk as well. According to CNBC, small businesses are the target for 43% of cyberattacks. Because many of these businesses are unprepared, they’re less likely to recover from an attack. In fact, the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60% of small businesses who suffered a cyberattack went out of business within 6 months of the breach.
In this post, we’ll discuss the basics of data breaches and walk through steps that you can take if your business is attacked.
What is a Data Breach?
By definition, a data breach is an incident when data is stolen or lost from a system without the knowledge or authorization of that system’s owner. A breach can be an unintentional incident, like a lost laptop that contains exposed data, or it can be intentional, such as a cybercriminal targeting and attacking a company’s wireless Internet or other systems to obtain sensitive data.
Steps to Take after a Small Business Data Breach
Business Internet services are essential and integral to daily operations, but the Internet can leave your data vulnerable to attacks. The best way to protect your data is to follow small business cybersecurity best practices so breaches are less likely to occur in the first place.
You can’t undo a data breach once it occurs, but you can help mitigate its negative impact if you respond correctly. Here are four steps that you can take if you are faced with a data breach.
1. Investigate the Data Breach
Before you can take steps to fix the issue, it’s important to understand what happened and which systems and stakeholders are impacted. Take some time to understand if the warning signs are an actual breach or just a software glitch. To determine if it’s a software glitch, you can consult the customer support team of the programs and tools that you’re using. If it does turnout to be an actual breach, you should try to identify:
- The computer systems and applications across your business that are impacted
- The victims of the attack, such as customers, employees, or vendors
- When the breach occurred
- The origin of the breach
2. Take Steps to Contain the Breach
Your next priority is to contain the breach by cutting off the routes that the breach is coming through. Steps to do this may include rerouting network traffic, changing all passwords, or taking impacted systems offline. Make sure to keep track of any expenses involved in this step, as this will be important to file a criminal report and a data breach insurance claim.
3. Carefully Manage Communications with Stakeholders and Customers
A data breach can put your small business’s reputation on the line, so it’s critical to manage communications strategically. Start with notifying your employees, managers, and any impacted stakeholders. From there, you should contact your local law enforcement agency. They have a vested interest in data security and can provide guidance on how to best contain the breach.
When you’re ready to notify your customers, it’s important to be honest, take responsibility, clearly explain why the breach happened, and outline the steps that your business is taking to contain the breach and prevent another breach from happening in the future.
You may feel helpless after a cyberattack, but following these steps can help your small business recover quickly. Learn more about how you can protect your business from future attacks in our post “Easy Tips to Improve Cybersecurity Practices for Your Business.”