What You Should Do After A Data Breach
Data breaches are a very common occurrence.
They can happen at any time and even very large companies, such as Yahoo and Facebook, can become victims of mass data breaches.
As a user of such platforms, you may or may not be affected. However, it is always important to know exactly what steps you should take to ensure your data is kept as safe as possible.
Data breaches should first be verified for authenticity. If one is real, then the types of data stolen should also be confirmed. Login credentials, such as passwords, should be changed immediately. You should also follow any instructions provided by the breached company to minimize the risk of identity theft or your data being compromised.
This article explains what should be done if you experience a data breach. We examine the steps you should take and the potential associated data breach risks. Read on to find out more.
What should a company do after a data breach
Companies that fall victim to data breaches are entirely responsible for ensuring all concerned parties are made aware of the situation and any potential risks. Here are the steps companies should immediately take if a data breach is suspected or confirmed.
1. Notify your customers immediately
Even if clients know what to do in the event of a data breach, they can only follow them if they are aware of the breach itself. It is therefore absolutely essential companies notify their clients of any incidents, even if the vast majority of are unlikely to be affected. This should be communicated via email or other means, such as an SMS or phone call, depending on the breach’s severity.
Companies should notify their clients without delay, even if the breach does not directly affect them. Informing them quickly can dramatically reduce the potential damage.
If clients are not notified immediately, then there could be serious financial and personal implications. PII (Personally Identifiable Information) could be compromised for both company employees as well as clients. Companies will ultimately be held responsible for any damages resulting from data breaches.
2. Disclose all necessary information to clients
All necessary information concerning a breach should be disclosed to clients. This means they know the risks if they do not take action to reduce the chances of their own data being compromised. Trying to downplay the nature of an attack is never a good idea. Doing so could result in serious liabilities for companies, especially if client data has indeed been compromised or identity theft occurred.
3. Instruct clients on next steps
Most clients do not know what steps to take even after a data breach has been confirmed. In these scenarios, it is therefore very important for companies to give clients clear instructions on what they need to do to reduce the chances of their data being compromised.
This should be done via email or other means of contact available to them, depending on the breach’s seriousness.
What you should do after a data breach
Using a dedicated cybersecurity software is the best way to minimize the chances of your data being compromised after a data breach.
You are especially vulnerable after a data breach, so give yourself that extra layer of protection by downloading an all-in-one cybersecurity software like Clario!
That being said, victims of data breaches are often confused as to what they can or should do to protect themselves once a data breach has been confirmed. Here are some other steps you can take to protect your PII if you receive a data breach notification.
1. Verify the source of the breach notification
Sure enough, one of the most common ways hackers access sensitive data is by sending fake data breach notifications, usually in the form of emails. It is therefore essential you verify where your data breach notification originated. The best way is to contact the company in question via the email or contact number listed on their official website.
Do NOT click on any links in emails. This could very well be how hackers get you to enter your data on a fake website. Instead, access your company’s website manually by typing its URL into your browser’s search bar or searching for it via Google.
2. Log in to your account and change your login passwords immediately
This is the easiest way to ensure nobody gains access to your account, especially if you do it as soon as possible after the breach has occurred. The reason is that most breaches are mass data breaches, i.e. hackers gain access to thousands of accounts at once, not specifically targeted individual data breaches. This means your own account should be safe if you change your login data in time.
3. Download and backup any files that you may have stored on your company’s servers
If the company has your files or other types of digital data stored on its servers (e.g. cloud storage services, web hosts), then it is a good idea to download and make local backups. Doing this as soon as possible will prevent your data from being corrupted, deleted or held for ransom.
Of course, the best way to deal with data breaches is to avoid them completely. There are numerous precautions you can take, many of which are easy to implement. To read more about what you can do to completely prevent data breaches, read our previous article on the best ways to minimize the chances of falling victim to data breaches.
Other things you can do to prevent data breaches
In addition to the above, here are some other steps you can take to prevent data breaches.
1. Make sure your operating system is up to date
Out-of-date operating systems are often more vulnerable to viruses and hacker attacks than up-to-date ones are. This is because hackers have had more time to find exploits on old operating systems than with new ones. It is therefore important to always use the latest operating system version. Usually this can be done by installing the latest version of Windows (currently Windows 10), if you are a Windows user, or updating to the latest version of MacOS for Apple users (iOS and Android if you are an iPhone or Android mobile device user respectively).
2. Make sure all security and software patches are up to date
Similarly, it is important to ensure all of your security patches are up to date on your operating system. With Windows this is done automatically as long as your Windows Update settings are configured to update automatically when security updates are detected.
Individual software programs installed on your operating system should also be regularly checked for updates if they are not set to do so automatically when connected to the internet. This will help avoid software-specific viruses infecting your computer and hackers getting hold of your sensitive login and other data.
3. Only use the latest versions of your anti-virus software
Anti-virus software, like Clario, should always be kept up to date, even if you are using a free or trial version. This is because hackers are constantly looking for loopholes and vulnerabilities wherever they can find them, including with anti-virus software.
Clicking on Update, or setting your anti-virus software to update automatically, will ensure you always have the best protection in place. This is a very effective way of preventing hackers from stealing your data.