How to Handle a Data Breach

Security incidents such as data breaches, malware attacks, and denial-of-service attacks are extremely common. Recent statistics state that 45% of small businesses experience between one and four security incidents a year. Many think that attackers only focus on large businesses and leave smaller ones alone because they don’t have as many assets to target. The truth is, small businesses are routinely attacked and are more vulnerable than their larger counterparts because they have fewer security measures in place. To make matters worse, small businesses are much more likely to go out of business than larger businesses as the result of a well-placed attack.

The best way to handle a data breach or other type of security attack is not to experience one in the first place. When you take proactive steps to prevent breaches from occurring, you can avoid the costly task of recovering from one. Here are some steps you can take to prevent attacks and to be proactively prepared should you become a victim.

Ensure systems are properly logging events and users are up-to-date on security education

Your system should record every attempt that is made to breach your system. When you are recording events, you can identify what type of attacks are occurring, where your system’s weaknesses are, and where you need extra security. You should also make sure your entire team is up-to-date on security measures such as not opening attachments, password creation and management, and what to do if an attack occurs.

Ensure important business information is being backed up off the network routinely

You can back up your information in a variety of ways, including the cloud or on a backup server that is not connected to your main network. You should make sure information is backed up on a daily basis. This can be done automatically or manually. We suggest backing up any important projects or information manually once they are completed and having an automatic backup system in place to perform your daily backups.

Have a plan of action in case of an incident

Just because you’re being proactive doesn’t mean a breach can’t still happen. Your team should have a strong incident response plan in place to fall back on if you experience an attack. Though every business’s plan will be a little different, good plans usually involve the following phases:

Phase 1: Preparation

Your prep phase includes properly training your employees on their role should a breach happen, developing incident response drills, and making sure your plan is approved and fully funded.

Phase 2: Identification

The second phase involves figuring out where you have been breached. During this phase, your team will ask questions such as “How was the breach discovered?”, “Have any other areas been impacted?” and “When did this event actually occur?”

Phase 3: Containment

The next step is to limit the spread of the breach so it cannot do any further damage to your business. This involves disconnecting the affected devices from the network so the breach is effectively cut off, patching your systems, and changing access credentials and passwords.

Phase 4: Eradication

Phase 4 is about eliminating the cause of the breach. In this phase, malware will be removed, systems will be patched, and updates applied. Some businesses are able to perform the eradication phase on their own while others will need the help from professionals such as those at Elkhorn Computer Service.

Phase 5: Recovery

After the danger has been eradicated, it’s time to restore and return affected systems and devices back to the operating environment. Determine how you will monitor the affected systems and for how long, double-check patches, and make sure you have tools in place to prevent a similar attack.

Phase 6: Lessons Learned

The final phase is to learn from the experience. Plan to hold a meeting with the entire team post-incident and analyze and document all parts of the breach. Determine what changes need to be made to security measures, how employees can be further trained, and how to ensure a breach like this does not happen again. Security incidents happen no matter how prepared you are. When you have a strong incident response plan in place, you can recover quickly and strengthen your company in the process. Need help putting a plan in place? The team at Elkhorn Computer Services is happy to help.

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