By Aaron Thomas

Data breaches can be a serious problem for a business of any size. As hackers and cyber criminals become more sophisticated, these attacks can be truly devastating. So if your organization suffers any kind of hack or cyber-attack, you need to know exactly how your company should respond to it. Here we take a look at some of the things that your business needs to do to prepare for a data breach, what to do in the immediate aftermath and finally, how to learn from the experience.

Plan for It

It should be a priority for every business to have a robust incident response plan. An incident response plan is a set of instructions that detail how to respond in various breach scenarios. You need to have these plans in place so that if a data breach does occur, there is a guide to help everyone understand what should happen and the appropriate action to take.

Your response plan will detail what should be done if you suffer a data breach and who needs to take responsibility for each step in the process. Having the plan in place can help you to take sensible, swift and corrective steps to mitigate the situation.

It is also worth pointing out that it is important that your incident response plan is regularly tested. The best way to do this is to commission a specialist cyber security firm to carry out a red team operation – a simulated cyber-attack designed to evaluate how effective controls and process really are.

Don’t Panic!

In the event that your business does suffer a real data breach, it’s important not to panic. When faced with a cyber-attack it is natural to want to act as quickly as possible, but it is important to keep a calm head and think through the situation. Wrong decisions at the crucial time can exacerbate the situation and make things worse than they are.

This is part of the reason having an incident response plan is so important. When you refer to a plan you can work through pre-defined steps rather than having to make decisions in the heat of the moment.

Call in Security Experts

In instances of a large scale breach, it may be the case that you do not have the expertise in-house to help investigate and remediate the incident. In such a scenario, it could be worthwhile enlisting the help of security specialists who will know what to look for and be able to trace the source of the attack.

In many scenarios, a business will know that it has been breached but may not know the extent of the compromise, including what data and assets may have been accessed.

Cyber security specialists will use the latest digital forensic techniques to fully understand what has happened and collect evidence for use in any legal proceedings.

Inform Anyone Affected

It should be noted that part of the reason that it is so important to understand the extent of the breach is due to the fact that that it is now necessary to inform anyone whose data has been stolen. Since the implementation of the GDPR it has been a requirement that should a business suffer a data breach leading to the disclosure of personal information, they must, in high-risk cases, inform any individuals affected.

Due to these regulations it is no longer possible to try to conceal or downplay or breaches – companies are required to be more accountable for the data that they hold.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Suffering a data breach can be a very difficult time for a business. However, it is important to note that not all cyber-attacks are entirely preventable – sometimes the most important thing you can do following the data breach is to learn from the mistakes that were made.

Cyber security is not just the responsibility of your IT department to look for ways to improve controls, policies, and procedures across the business. This can include regular staff training and conducting assessments such as penetration tests to identify and remediate vulnerabilities and guide future security investments.