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5 Essential Actions to Protect Yourself Following a Data Breach

Posted by Kanika Sinha

January 13, 2024

Learn strategies to respond in a timely and effective manner.

Even with top-notch security measures, cyber-attacks are an all too real possibility for small businesses.

Statistics suggest that over 40% of data breaches involve small businesses. Additionally, Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report reveals that smaller firms are highly vulnerable to malware, ransomware, and social attacks.

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As a result, what your firm does in the wake of a data breach is as crucial as the cybersecurity measures you take to prevent such violations in the first place. A practical and timely response can help you neutralize a breach quickly, minimize the impact, and reduce the cost of the cyber incident.

But the big question is: What should you do if your organization becomes a victim?

Here are five quick actions to take when you find out your small business has been hacked.

1. Secure your systems

Once you have detected a breach, immediately take action to contain the breach and secure your systems and devices. This entails:

  • Isolating servers and the affected systems and devices by taking them off the network.
  • Shutting down WiFi and VPNs until you can analyze the situation and implement appropriate measures to avoid additional damage.
  • Changing passwords or lock credentials for all involved accounts, whether confirmed or suspected.

2. Assess the impact

Next, put your best foot forward to investigate and assess the damage caused by the cyber attack. This involves:

  • Determining the root cause and extent of the cyber attack.
  • Examining the network and the affected systems to eliminate the risk of any malicious program that still resides in the system.

Further, consider bringing in an external data security expert to help identify the point of compromise and understand the scope of the breach.

3. Preserve the evidence

This step might be the key to tracking down the attacker. Consider taking the following actions to save the evidence of the cyber attack:

  • Maintain a log of actions and operations taken before and after the breach is discovered.
  • Ensure auditing is intact and operational.
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4. Notify the authorities and the victims

Make a public announcement through a press conference, email, social media, or website notification to ensure the regulatory authorities and all the affected parties are informed about the data breach. While doing so, ensure to:

  • Cite the exact time and date of the cyber attack, including the extent and scope of the damage.
  • Describe what your firm has done to remedy the breach and what it intends to do to secure future financial data and other sensitive details.
  • Guide customers and clients to protect themselves.
  • Consult your legal representative to ensure you meet all data breach reporting requirements.

5. Plan ahead

The last step is to prepare and plan to prevent future cyber-attacks and data breaches. In this regard, ensure to:

  • Develop a more proactive, defense-in-depth approach to security.
  • Buy endpoint security software.
  • Revise existing data privacy policies.
  • Offer more cybersecurity awareness training for employees.
  • Implement effective risk management policies with third-party businesses.
  • Regularly improve your incident response plan through thorough testing and evaluation.

The final word

Acting swiftly and decisively is crucial when facing a data breach or any other cyber-attack. The steps above will guide you through the initial response, helping you minimize the damage and protect your firm.

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Want to know more about startups and what it takes to get started? Since 2006, Escalon has helped thousands of startups get off the ground with our back-office solutions for accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, HR, payroll, insurance, and recruiting — and we can help yours, too. Talk to an expert today.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. Escalon and its affiliates are not providing tax, legal or accounting advice in this article. If you would like to engage with Escalon, please contact us here.


Kanika Sinha
Kanika Sinha

Kanika is an enthusiastic content writer who craves to push the boundaries and explore uncharted territories. With her exceptional writing skills and in-depth knowledge of business-to-business dynamics, she creates compelling narratives that help businesses achieve tangible ROI. When not hunched over the keyboard, you can find her sweating it out in the gym, or indulging in a marathon of adorable movies with her young son.

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