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What to Do After A Data Leak: 5 Critical Steps

What to Do After A Data Leak: 5 Critical Steps

There were almost 1600 data breaches in the United States during 2017. Despite increased security measures, many businesses and organizations faced a situation where a data breach occurred.

How you handle any data leak is important. Being prepared and taking immediate action can limit the damage caused by the incident as well as lower the cost of a data breach.

Here’s what you need to know about handling a security incident.

Key Steps in Handling a Data Leak

There are 5 steps you can take in response to a data breach to lower the damage.

1. Assemble the Team

You’ll need to bring together a variety of experts to deal with the situation. This includes IT people, management, and legal counsel.

It’s important to identify how the leak happened, what information was exposed, and what measures need to be taken in response to the incident.

Dealing with the consequences of the data leak may require the use of outside forensic experts and legal counsel.

2. Secure Your IT Systems

Once you realize a breach has occurred, it’s important to secure all IT systems to make sure more data aren’t lost. This could mean pulling computers off the network until you can be sure they are not compromised and leaking more data.

Another key step is having all individuals authorized to access IT systems change their login credentials in case the hackers obtained access to this information during the breach.

Once the cause of the leak is known, you’ll want to be sure any machines connected to the network have security protections against a similar attack.

3. Create a Communications Plan

Nobody wants to tell the world they lost data but it’s important to notify all affected individuals about the incident. This includes your employees and any customers impacted.

If the data leaked are sensitive and could affect the privacy and security of individuals, it may be necessary to use a public relations campaign to help you reach the individuals whose data were lost.

If it was a large-scale breach, you’ll likely need a communications team in place to handle questions from impacted individuals as well as give relevant information to those affected.

4. Notify Law Enforcement and Government Agencies

Letting law enforcement know about the breach can help lower the risk of identity theft if personal information was part of the breach.

Depending on the type of data lost and relevant federal and state laws, you might need to notify specific government agencies about the data leak.

To find out who you need to notify, you’ll need to research state and federal laws. An easier approach is to hire legal experts who specialize in handling data breach incidents.

5. Fix the Problem

Data breaches happen when hackers exploit weaknesses in your IT systems. Whether it’s computer vulnerabilities or poorly trained employees, you’ll need to make sure the issue doesn’t happen again.

Often it will take some time and a security audit to find weaknesses in your IT systems or procedures.

Working with a cybersecurity expert can help you identify and address issues.

Moving Forward

Using strong cybersecurity protections can help avoid the loss of data to hackers. Destroying unneeded data can help prevent data leaks by reducing the amount of data retained.

If you haven’t set up a secure data destruction process, we can assist you in developing one.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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