What to Do if You Have a Data Breach

        Understanding and Preventing Data Breaches


It is common to have an “it will never happen to us” philosophy when it comes to data breaches. Unfortunately, that thinking can lead to lax security measures and carelessness when it comes to protecting sensitive information. If your company suffers a data breach:

     1) Act quickly. Report the breach immediately to local law enforcement.
     Notify important suppliers, vendors and partners.

     2) Alert your customers. If there is a data breach involving customers’
     personal information, activate your plan to alert them. The information
     compromised could be incredibly harmful to your customers, so alert them as
     soon as possible.

     3) Investigate. If you do not have the resources to do an internal investigation,
     consult a third party. The quicker the breach can be dealt with, the
     fewer negative effects your company will endure.

     4) Take measures to lessen the chance of a future breach. Fortunately, a data
     breach can be a good learning tool for your company. Analyze why
     the breach happened and take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has many resources available to assist you and your company in recovering from a data breach.

What do Target, Nieman Marcus and Apple have in common? All these companies were victims of a data breach in 2013, totaling millions of stolen records that include personal information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.

If your company handles critical assets such as customers’ personal data, intellectual property or proprietary corporate data, you are at risk of a data breach. It doesn’t matter if you are a Fortune 500 company or a small “ma and pa” shop—cyber thieves are always looking for their next score. It is often assumed that smaller businesses can escape attention from cyber crooks, but according to Verizon Communication’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report, 31 percent of data breaches were at companies with 100 or fewer employees. No company of any size is completely safe from a data breach.