Data Breaches: How To Deal With Them and Recover

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Data breaches happen. Though not ideal, you can recover. Here's how to deal.

The size of a company does not matter when it comes to data breaches as juggernauts like Target have had customer information hacked.

The smaller a company is the larger an impact a hack can have as losing a few main clients can cripple cash flow in startups and small businesses.

With more and more information being kept electronically it is inevitable that some businesses will encounter a hack that leads to the information of employees and/or customers being let into the hands of a hacker or hacker group.

Below are some ways to deal with the different aspects of a data breach and how a company can recover.

Employees

The fact is that many employees will be extremely upset if their personal information is in the hands of a hacker.

This can lead employees to have negative feelings toward the company and even have a significant drop in performance.

Drops in performance after a data breach might be common as the stress of possible identity theft could have even the calmest of employees stressed out.

Taking care of employees well-being is important as without a staff, a business will go out of business.

How To Deal With This:

  • Informing the employees at any sign of a data breach is important. Even if the breach isn’t confirmed, there are steps to dealing with identity theft that can be taken.
  • Letting employees know the steps in reporting a possibly stolen identity is important as this can ruin credit and finances for years to come.
  • Take care of the steps to secure the identities of employees as it was the company that allowed the information to leak.
  • Sponsor a yearlong identity theft protection service as this can gain favor back with employees. This might cost a bit as far as subscription fees but it pales in comparison to a lawsuit that can be filed.

Customers

If a data breach happens the worst thing that can happen is that long term relationships are ruined.

With that being said companies realize this might happen and if a strong enough relationship is garnered, it won’t impact the business relationship.

Informing the customer is important but not until all facts and data hacked has come to light. A terrible thing that can happen is notifying a client about a hack only to find that more information has been breached.

This conversation is tough to have the first time but having it a second time in a matter of days or weeks can ruin even the strongest relationships.

How To Recover From This:  

  • Gather all of the facts before making this public as it could be a scare and information might still be secure. This differs from employee information leaks as a rumor around the office could spread like fire.
  • Let customers know what precautions were taken to protect their information. Some companies will understand as they might have been hacked in the past.
  • Be prepared to lose customers as newer relationships can be tarnished with this type of breach.
  • Tell customers of the new precaution and encryption services that are to be used as this can comfort any future concerns. A commitment to security might not save all relationships but on the other hand not all companies will consider leaving after a breach.

Legal Team

Keeping the legal team in the loop is extremely essential as data breaches can lead to lawsuits if the proper steps are not taken.

Helping the legal team out by contacting law enforcement as the odds are most common employees won’t be able to pinpoint a breach and see what information has been hacked.

Recovering From This Legally: 

  • Check to see if all security measures were done in compliance with what was needed legally.
  • Make sure the legal team knows to comply with law enforcement as some of the team might be unsure whether to comply and open up more avenues for lawsuits.
  • It can be wise to settle out of court before multiple clients team up for a larger lawsuit.
  • Rewrite certain MSA and contracts to protect the company from future lawsuits if a breach is to happen again.

Reputation

There is nothing like a data breach that can ruin the reputation of a company. Potential customers might end up signing with the competition as having private data leaked can be a deciding factor. Even if the breach is over and proper precautions have been taken to prevent future attacks, the tainted image of the company can still be present.

Recovering a Reputation:

  • Ramping up PR efforts is essential as this can even push down the breach reports on search engines.
  • Enlist a PR agency if the resources to run a campaign aren’t available. This investment can be great as these companies deal with helping companies recover from some less than desirable situations.
  • Do not let information leak out a little at a time but rather have it all come out. The constant reporting of a breach can make the breach look much more severe than others might have thought if it was just reported on one day.

Data breaches will become much more prevalent with more companies doing business solely online.

Taking the proper precautions is important but knowing how to deal with a breach if it happens is equally important.

Plan for the worst and hope for the best to make a data breach as minor of a problem as possible.

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