This guest post by Lindsey Weiss covers an important topic for entrepreneurs and small businesses – what happens after a data breach?
Everyone knows that small business owners have a lot on their plates at any given time. In fact, the sheer number of responsibilities that they need to concern themselves with would make most people quake in their boots. And while modern technology has been more than helpful in simplifying and automating some tasks, it comes with its own set of concerns.
These days, issues pertaining to data security are becoming more widespread, often with devastating consequences to small businesses. It goes without saying that while you can hope for the best and pray that it won’t happen to you, the looming threat of a data breach is simply not something that you can disregard and sweep under a rug. Rather, it’s a good idea to not only know what you’re up against, but also be proactive enough to know how to handle it if it happens and, better yet, how to prevent it.
Know What to Look Out For
The fight for data security is not just a battle — it’s an all-out war. And like all wars, the rules of engagement start with knowing the enemy. In this case, where do data breaches come from? More importantly, how do they occur?
The fact is, while sources for data breaches and fraud are varied and plenty, more often than not, they can all be traced back to human error. This runs the gamut from employees being careless about their passwords to disgruntled ex-staffers selling company secrets to workers falling for phishing scams and inadvertently letting malware into the system.
Indeed, as systems become more sophisticated, hackers are becoming more inventive at exploiting vulnerabilities. Knowing what you’re up against gives you a fighting chance.
Know How to Respond
In the event that a cybersecurity breach does occur, how you respond right off the bat could be the key to your business’ survival. This is why it’s extremely crucial to have an incident response plan in place to serve as a guideline on how you and your staff should handle and contain the issue, as well as ensure that it won’t happen again.
Undoubtedly the most essential thing following a data breach is communication, both internal (staff, consultants, management, etc.) and external (clients, media, etc.). After which, you will then need to mitigate the problem by identifying the extent of the breach and investigating if fraud is involved, and then taking the next steps in fixing it.
Know When to Get Help
More often than not, the nitty-gritty of a cybersecurity breach will be well beyond your skill set, which is why getting expert help could be one of the best actions you could possibly take. In the case of data loss following a malware, email scam, or phishing attack, professional tech support could help you recover what you’ve lost. This is important if you, like the majority of small businesses, don’t have in-house IT staff. With this in mind, it’s definitely prudent to research how to hire a hacker — a person who can find holes in your security systems and protocols — to minimize your loss in data and, by extension, productivity, as well as subsequently get your operations up and running again.
Know How to Move Forward
In the words of the great Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” No doubt, this is truest in the realm of data security.
Know that it really is in your best interest to take great pains in preventing breaches—not just after the fact, but even when there is no foreseeable threat on the horizon. At the most fundamental level, this will entail enforcing stricter password protocols and restricting the outside flow of data by training your employees, to name just a few. Furthermore, you will also need to invest in cutting-edge software and systems to protect your network and firewall and keep them current, as well as take advantage of government protection and support.
Suffice it to say that when it comes to data security, what you don’t do is just as important as the actions that you do take. In this day and age, remember that being vigilant is no longer enough — you need to be proactive, too.
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