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Image courtesy of freebieshutterb at FreeDigitalPhotos.netAs business and the world becomes more and more connected, the risk for data breaches increases. In 2016, half of all small businesses in a survey experienced a data breach over the course of 12 months. Data breaches aren’t only common, they are expensive. The average breach costs more than $7 million, according to Business Insider.

Knowing what to do to minimize the risk of a data breach is just part of the solution. Your company also needs to have a plan for what to do in the event that a breach does happen. Following these four steps will help your company contain the breach and minimize the damage caused by it.

Stop the Breach

The first thing your company should do if a data breach occurs is make every effort to stop the breach. You don’t want your business to be the victim of multiple attacks, nor to you want to have the private information about your customers out there for any hacker or criminal to see. Putting an end to the breach usually involves several steps. You may need to change the network you are using or take certain equipment offline, to cut off the access the hackers have to the files. You’ll most likely need to change passwords and scour the web to see if there is any confidential information out there about your company, which might have made it easy for the hackers to get in.

At this point, you’ll also want to bring in a legal team to keep you updated about your rights and responsibilities after the breach, as well as a team to look into the cause of the breach.

Examine What Caused the Breach

Several things can put your business at risk for a data breach, including employees who don’t know the basics of security or who don’t understand the importance of strong passwords. In some cases, software malfunctions can be responsible for a data leak. Knowing what caused the breach is essential, as it will help your company determine the best way to stop it and the best way to correct any vulnerabilities that put your company at risk.

Tell Anyone Who is Affected

According to the FTC, in most parts of the US, a business has a legal obligation to notify people affected by a data leak. Even if your business is based in a state where notification isn’t required, it’s in the best interests of your company to tell those affected. You’ll also want to let the police know about the incident. You might also want to let the FBI know about it, depending on the size of the breach and the experience of your local police force.

In many cases, you’ll also need to tell credit card companies or financial institutions about the incident. Since those companies handle the accounts of people who might have been affected, it will be their responsibility to monitor certain accounts for suspicious activity or fraud.

It’s not enough to just tell individuals about the data breach. Your company should also offer some guidance and assistance helping people figure out what to do next. Let people know the extent of the breach and what data might have been compromised. For example, if a person’s credit card number was revealed, the next step would be to shut down that card and issue another one. But more steps need to be taken if a person’s social security number is compromised, since hackers can use those numbers to open new accounts or to commit tax theft.

Go Into Damage Control Mode

How your business responds to a data breach can sink it or help it stay afloat. It’s important to be there for the people affected by the breach and to offer as much support and guidance as you can. For example, your company might consider paying for credit monitoring or a credit freeze for the people who’s information got leaked. It’s also a good idea to offer individuals affected by the leak multiple ways to get in touch with your business and to ask questions.

Perhaps most importantly, you want to tell the public what you’ll do to keep a breach from happening again. Regaining the trust of your clients can make or break your business after a data breach.

A data breach doesn’t just harm your company’s reputation. It can also have a negative effect on your business’ finances. To learn more about how to manage your company’s finances to prepare for a potential breach, contact New Direction Capital today.

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