No matter how well you think you’ve got your cybersecurity under control, there are always people looking to get your information. And as they say, if there’s a will, there’s most certainly a way. Sometimes, a data breach cannot be helped. However, when it happens, it’s what your business does next that sets the tone for the future.

How Do Data Breaches Happen?

The question of how your system was infiltrated is one that you have to answer and fast. Cybercriminals can access your network by figuring out ways to bypass your internal security and how that happens depends on your security infrastructure. One of the most efficient ways to determine what happened, and what comes next, is to contact a digital forensics specialist such as Secure Data Recovery who can work with your company’s information technology department to evaluate your systems and implement measures to prevent them in the future. You also need to discuss the implications of the incidence with a qualified legal team.

The Next Steps

While your first response should be to stop criminal access and to begin cleaning up, your next responsibility is to alert customers that were potentially affected. Together with your PR team, you must determine how you will give notice. Most often, this will be in the form of an email, which should outline what happened, what information was accessed, and what steps are being taken to protect your customers’ data. The Federal Trade Commission further recommends that your customers be given the contact information of a representative from your organization.

As a gesture of good faith, consider providing your customers with free credit monitoring services through a reputable third party for at least one year. The three major credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion

Maintain an open line of communication, and make sure that your clients are aware of safeguards being put into place to help protect their data. Part of this will be employee training. Regardless of how the breach happened in the first place, your staff is your best line of defense against further violations. Central Insurance Companies also recommends that employee computer usage be restricted to business-use only.

Moving Forward

After a major security incident, you should be prepared for some negative press. Listen to your customers’ frustrations, and don’t be condescending or downplay their concerns. Assure them that your company takes the matter seriously and is working diligently to make things right.

Reputation Management

It will take time, but the crisis will eventually subside, although the effects of the incident will probably linger. Your reputation, and especially your online reputation, will have taken a hit, but there are things you can do to keep your company in a positive light. Many online reputation management tools can help you reclaim your online presence. These include, according to Search Engine Land, software that helps you do everything from monitor online reviews to determine “toxic “ backlinks to your website. Keep in mind that it takes time to rebuild both your online presence and reestablish trust with current and future clients.

Experiencing a security event does not have to be a long-term disaster for your company. Some of the biggest names in the business world have experienced high-profile data breaches in recent years, and they are still up and running. It is what you do immediately following an issue that determines how you are viewed by the public. When an issue occurs, sit down with your legal and technical teams, formulate a plan, and let your clients know that you won’t rest until changes are made that will ensure the ongoing safety of their personal information.