Your Business Has Been Breached. Now What?

The 8 Steps Businesses Need to Take to Recover from a Data Breach

It seems that we hear about data breaches far more often than we used to. Anytime we open our inbox or visit a news site, we are being prompted to change credentials, accept new policies, or be wary of potential threats.

For example, Canva publicly announced that they had experienced a data breach yesterday. Users received emails encouraging them to update their login credentials to limit further damage.

A data breach is one the worst things that can happen to an organization, and poorly remediating the issue can make the situation tremendously worse. Even though most businesses are “overconfident” in their ability to stop cybersecurity breaches, there seems to be a lack of common best practices for remediation. This is quite concerning because containing the issue needs to be handled in an organized and timely manner.

So, let’s say that your business has been breached. Now what are you supposed to do?

Stop Everything

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The first step should be to take everything offline. The goal in this step is to limit further activity and shut down communication inside your IT environment. Be careful when doing this! Erasing evidence or accidentally aiding the threat is going to make recovery a whole lot harder. Also, determining which users or departments to disconnect is reliant upon the attack.

For example: If the accounting department has been targeted by the attack, the accounting department has become the top priority.

If your business operates through VMs (virtual machines), be sure to take a snapshot in order to have a documented version of the system at the time of the breach. These snapshots will come in handy at a later point.

Monitor the Situation

Determining the scope of the breach is the next step in remediating the situation. Auditing systems can help to identify whether the threat is still active or when the threat seized. These systems will give a definitive look into what happened and what action needs to be taken from that point.

Update Credentials

The next step is to update passwords or completely lock credentials depending on severity. This helps to bring the breach to a halt. Most data breaches utilize compromised passwords to gain access to an organization’s network. Credential updates should apply to all involved accounts.

These new passwords should follow guidelines laid out by best practices. This includes using passphrases or passwords with up to 12 characters consisting of a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.

Evaluate the Impact

At this point, the next step is to investigate what happened. This evaluation should cover what data was compromised, which systems were accessed, and where in the network did the breach begins to take place. This requires the information gathered in the previous step (Monitor the Situation).

With this set of information and tools, businesses will be able to analyze the entire scope of what occurred. This will all be put to use when formulating a plan to solve the issue.

Determine the Cause

Evaluating the impact of a data breach isn’t enough to completely resolve the situation. In order to effectively remediate the issue, breached businesses need to know how it happened. This prevents wasting time to develop a solution that isn’t effective enough.

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Determining the cause is one of the most difficult parts. The issue could have originated from:

  • Weak Passwords
  • Out-of-Date Software/Applications
  • Connecting Previously Infected Devices

These are a few examples of what could have happened, but a thorough analysis of the attack will help identify the true cause.

Decide How to Respond

This step includes the beginning process of fixing the issue at hand. After the cause has been identified, action can be taken. This could include changing passwords, updating software, implementing new protocol, upgrading the network firewall, etc.

A managed service provider can help with these improvements as well as bring a professional outside perspective. Bringing on trained technicians reduces the liability of further damaging the breach.

Whatever the remedy may be, action should be taken as quickly as possible.

Alert Internal Staff

Although data breaches require quite a bit of technical resolution, effective communication plays a major role in effectively bouncing back from an attack. This step may involve alerting a business’s legal team, the PR department, customer service, or any other shareholding members required to be involved.

Clear, concise communication of what happened will clear a lot of the confusion. Internal personnel should know that the breach did occur, how it happened, what needs to be done, and who needs to be involved.

Prepare Public Announcement

Once the business’s internal team has been notified, a public announcement is going to have to be made. This may tarnish a business’s reputation severely, but customers and clients deserve to know that a data breach occurred. Withholding this information can cause even more damage as well as create legal issues.  

One popular example of poor PR management is the Equifax data breach. The liability shifted when Equifax ignored a cybersecurity risk that endangered the personal information of millions of people.

Here’s another example of how not to acknowledge a data breach.

After these steps have been taken and the issue has been resolved, there is still work to be done. Now is the time to identify any areas for improvement. The breach was caused by some sort of vulnerability. Whether the vulnerability was due to lack of security awareness or weak network security, this should now be treated as an area of high priority and focus. Preventing the chances of another breach can be mitigated by making continual improvements to network security.

The information in this post is subjective based on your business and the scope of the data breach. Professional help is recommended to handle a data breach effectively and efficiently.

Has your business experienced a data breach? Are you looking to make improvements to prevent one? Reach out to Creative Network Innovations today. Our team of security professionals will work alongside your business to develop an IT strategy proven to reduce the chances of a security breach. We work with many other businesses in the Central Florida area with services that include:

Security Awareness Training

IT Audits & Assessments

Penetration Testing

vCIO Consulting Services

Digital Forensics

& so much more.