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So, You’ve Been Hacked. These are the Best Practices for Business Leaders Post-Hack

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Data is the most valuable asset in today’s interconnected world, where ones and zeroes reign supreme. However, securing every last byte of the predicted 181 zettabytes of data that will be consumed by 2025 is a dystopia in and of itself. So, as a business leader, it’s not a matter of if but when your organization will face a cyber incident.

Immediate financial losses aren’t the worst part of a data breach. In fact, the lasting effects are the more troublesome ones. Long-term implications of a data breach spread across a company and impact its reputation, customers, workforce, databases and even its network architecture.

How you react following an attack has an enormous influence on the effectiveness of your recuperation efforts and the long-term viability of your organization. In this article, we will explore the essential steps business leaders should take and the pitfalls to avoid in the challenging journey after a hack.

Related: How to Protect Your Customers (and Your Brand) From Data Breaches

Essential steps in the wake of a data breach

Much like death and taxes, cyberattacks are now a part of everyday life. By following a prepared strategy, the actions you take can maintain data security, significantly reduce risk and help mitigate some of the fallout.

The first hours and days following a cyberattack are crucial. Unfortunately, in many cases, weeks and months can pass before companies realize they are breached. The sooner you respond, the better your chances of minimizing its impact on your organization. Quickly finding breached endpoints and servers and rapidly segregating them should be prioritized. This strategy prevents lateral movement within the corporate network and hinders dangerous code from infecting further systems.

Successful containment brings us to the next phase — assessing the scope of the hack. A major part of efficient recovery depends on knowing how large the breach is. Conduct a thorough investigation to determine what data has been compromised and how it could affect your company’s operations. Before restarting operations, do a comprehensive analysis, uncover any vulnerabilities, fix them and ensure all affected systems are secure. Depending on the scope and resources of your in-house IT team, you can either employ vulnerability management tools or engage the expertise of a seasoned cybersecurity firm.

Related: Cybercrime Will Cost The World $8 Trillion This Year — Your Money is in Danger. Here’s Why Prioritizing Cybersecurity is Crucial to Mitigate Risk

Perform a thorough evaluation of your current security protocols, policies and technologies when there is even a slight indication of a breach. Identify any vulnerabilities or loopholes that were exploited during the assault and put strong measures in place to stop similar attacks in the future.

The primary actions to consider here include implementing a Secure Access Service Edge solution (SASE), an Identity Access Management solution (IAM), Endpoint Threat Detection and Response (EDR) cloud security solutions and a combination of Unified Endpoint Management (UEMs) and endpoint security solutions. Regardless of the blend of tools and solutions you choose, the end goal should always be to promote a culture of zero trust in the digital landscape.

Employees tend to be the most vulnerable branch of a company’s security architecture. Cybercriminals exploit these human vulnerabilities through social engineering and phishing attacks. Reports show that 74% of all attacks last year were instigated due to human error. So, routinely instruct your employees on cybersecurity best practices, highlighting the need to use strong passwords, spot phishing scams and adhere to safe protocols. When executed successfully, employee education is a strong deterrent against future assaults.

Like a seasoned gladiator ready for battle, merely arming yourself for the hack is insufficient; you must also be prepared to defend yourself from attacks. Frequently put your crisis response plans to the test and refine them via simulated exercises. Through such drills, you can identify any shortcomings or deficits in your response capabilities and fine-tune the process. A well-trained team can react swiftly and efficiently to reduce the damage brought on by a breach.

Critical mistakes to avoid post-hack

Recovering from a hack is a strenuous and exhausting endeavor, and there are certain obstacles or pitfalls to avoid that could turn a fiery blaze into a roaring inferno.

The most important thing is that there is no room for denial. Hiding a breach under the rug or downplaying its severity only worsens the situation and builds distrust among stakeholders. Transparency is crucial after a cyberattack. Inform your staff, clients, business partners and the proper authorities as soon as possible about the incident and its severity. It’s also important to control your reputation and communicate effectively. Ignoring public relations can have a long-lasting negative effect on your brand and customer loyalty.

Another mistake is overlooking the importance of cybersecurity insurance. Cyber insurance is a critical part of any company’s risk management strategy. Even companies with robust security systems are susceptible to hacking, and cyber insurance may help shield them from the resulting financial fallout. The global average cost of a single data breach was $4.25 million last year. Compared to that, the cost of a comprehensive insurance policy is only a fraction of that amount.

Related: The Top 3 Mistakes Businesses Make After a Hack

Bottom line

A cyberattack is likely to happen to any organization that functions digitally, but how an organization responds to such an incident matters. Successfully navigating the path to recovery helps organizations emerge stronger, more resilient and better prepared to turn victimhood into vigilance. Life following a hack presents an opportunity to grow and fortify your organization against new threats looming over the horizon.

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