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4 steps to take ASAP if your business gets hacked

Posted by Shivali Anand

September 2, 2021    |     3-minute read (570 words)

Cybercrime is a scourge of the modern era, found in every country, sector and organization. Beyond the theft of finances and business’ critical data, a cyberattack has ramifications not only for the compromised company but also for customers and other stakeholders. 

Unfortunately, even with the most stringent cybersecurity safeguards in place, businesses' computer systems can still be in jeopardy. But how can you determine whether your company has been hacked? 

Telltale signs of a cyberattack include a sudden surge in DNS traffic, workstations that crash or run poorly, frequent and random pop-ups, online passwords not working, unwanted software installations and unexpected browser toolbars.

Once you've discovered that a hacking incident has occurred, there are four key measures you can take to address the breach.

Limit damage

Trying to minimize the harm is your priority. Determine what steps can be taken immediately by using existing technology. Reset passwords, run antivirus and anti-malware applications, lock down user accounts and make all social media accounts private, for example. These containment procedures will at the very least prevent the hacking from causing more damage. Assume everything is susceptible until you can figure out how the hacker(s) got in.

Seek advice from experts

Assess what happened and which data was compromised. Whatever the cause of the breach, forensic evaluations of your processes and systems are essential to identify and safeguard any present or potential weak points. Employ a data security specialist to investigate the matter if you don't have an in-house IT expert.

Hacking and data breach laws are constantly evolving and differ from state to state and sector to sector. For example, finance- and health-related business laws are frequently strict. Contact a cyber law professional and discuss as many sorts of intrusion as possible so the legal expert can offer well-conceived guidance for each.

Notify necessary parties of the breach

If the hack resulted in a data breach in which your customers' personal information was possibly exposed, you must notify them right away. This enables them to alter their own passwords and, if necessary, freeze payment methods. You can also provide them with information on how to safeguard themselves using best practices.

Though you are not obligated by the law to notify customers of breaches or hacks, your transparent reporting and response will:

  • Allow you to limit additional damage.
  • Reduce the danger of losing client trust.
  • Assist other companies in recognizing and understanding existing threats. 
  • Allow you to determine what should be done to avoid repetition.
Other stakeholders, such as regulators, directors, vendors, employees and the media, may also need to be notified. Create a strategy that includes messaging for each group and is ready to go at any time.

Repair damage, and rebuild

Review and amend your recovery plan after you've gotten a grasp on things, and don't forget to test it properly. Everyone from each segment of the business, including high positions such as the CEO, should be involved. Engage your consumers and vendors in the planning process. Check to see what they're doing to protect your information. This will instill trust and encourage them to continue with you.

Prevention is always preferable to a cure. While you can't promise your business won't be targeted in a cyberattack again, having a solid and proven cyberattack response strategy in place increases your chances of not just fending off even the most destructive cyberattacks, but also limiting the harm if one does happen.

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