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Key Steps to Handling a Data Breach

Hackers, cybercriminals, disgruntled employees, and industrial espionage are unfortunately part and parcel of running a business these days.

Data breaches can affect organisations, large and small. Of course, one only hears about data breaches when large corporations and their clients are the victims.

Today, no matter the size of your organisation, it is important that you take the time to consider the possibility that you may be the victim of a data breach at some point in time. Being aware of the possibility of a security breach is a good place to start but you will need to take steps before, during, and after a data breach.


Key Steps to take before a data breach

Choose your partners carefully

When it comes to your shredding service provider, offsite document storage partner, and your records and information management specialist making the wrong choice could increase your risk.

Take the time to look at references, facilities, security measure, chain-of-custody, etc. The right partner will reduce your risk and give you that extra peace of mind.


Make use of offsite document and data storage

Storing important records and documents is a smart way to limit your exposure to data breaches. Offsite storage facilities add an extra layer of security as access to documents, data is limited to authorised personnel only, and document movements can be monitored and audited.


Implement and maintain ongoing data backups

Your company’s data is its lifeblood. Make sure it is always complete with regular backups. If all your data is on on-site hard drives and they are stolen, then you will be faced with two threats to the survival of your company. On one hand, your business may grind to a halt as essential company data is missing. On the other, you may soon find yourself in court should the breach expose your clients and suppliers to danger or loss of any sort.


Create a follow a standard set of security protocols

It makes no difference whether you are handling paper files or electronic ones, you must have a specific method of handling security for both. One simple rule for example, is not to allow employees to take work home. Records in a briefcase or on a flash drive that leave your premises increase your risk.


Train, train, and train some more

Do not assume that a single security workshop or seminar is enough to keep your employees actively maintaining security protocols. Regular training that includes practical application of security measures as well as clearly explains the need for such measures is an excellent way to reduce the risk of a data breach.


Don’t stay silent

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts you may face a data breach. While you may be overcome with fear having discovered such a breach, you cannot let this stop communication with your clients and other affected parties. As soon as you have confirmed that you have been breached make sure to communicate this fact to all concerned parties and include any measures they can take to limit their risk.

While you reputation may take a knock and your trust dented, a swift response can limit the damage to you and your clients and if handled really well my even earn you praise for your decisive actions so long as you also had measures in place to reasonably reduce the risks.


Analyse and improve

Handling a data breach does not end when the breach has been stopped or contained. Now you must look forward and analyse what went wrong and how you could have prevented or handled the situation better. Once you have carried out a thorough analysis you must implement better preventative measures, from increased security measures to monitoring and even to training and public relations responses.


While we hope that you are well prepared already and never have to face a data breach, we also hope that the above information will give you pause to think about your organisation’s security and take steps to improve it.


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