Steps to Take When an SMB Data Breach Occurs

Mar 27, 2023


As a small to medium-sized business, a data breach can be a daunting challenge. With the increase in cyber-attacks, it has become crucial for companies to implement measures to prevent and respond to these kinds of incursions. But even though it can be challenging to figure out what to do, you can use the following checklist to ensure you’re making the right moves in connection with a breach.

Step 1: Identify the Breach

The first step is to identify that a breach has occurred. This could be through a notification from a customer or an employee, an alert from a monitoring system, or an unusual activity on the network. Once you have identified that a breach has occurred, it is essential to take immediate action.

Some of the most common kinds of breaches include:

  1. Phishing attacks. In this kind of attack, cybercriminals send emails seemingly from reputable sources, like banks or businesses, to trick individuals into clicking on malicious links or downloading malware.
  2. Malware attacks. Malware, short for malicious software, is a type of software designed to harm or disrupt computer systems. Malware can be used to steal sensitive data such as passwords, financial information, and personal identifiable information (PII).
  3. Ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a type of malware that locks up files on a victim’s computer or network by encrypting them. Cybercriminals then require the victim to make a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key, which they may or may not provide.
  4. Insider threats. Data breaches can also occur due to the actions of insiders, such as employees or contractors who have access to sensitive information. Insiders may accidentally or intentionally leak sensitive data, steal information for personal gain, or sell data to third parties.
  5. Physical theft. Physical theft of electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones can also result in data breaches if these devices contain sensitive information.

Step 2: Contain the Breach

The second step is to contain the breach. This involves isolating the affected systems, networks, and devices to prevent further damage. If the breach is severe, it is recommended that you take your entire network offline until the source of the breach has been identified and resolved. Here are some more specific things you can do to limit the impact of a breach as an SMB:

  1. Disconnect the affected systems. Once you suspect a data breach has occurred, immediately disconnect the affected systems from the internet and other networks to prevent further data loss.
  2. Assemble a response team. Assemble a team of IT professionals, data security experts, and legal advisors to investigate the breach and take remedial action.
  3. Investigate the extent of the breach. Investigate the extent of the breach, including the type and amount of data that was stolen or compromised, the systems and networks that were affected, and the duration of the breach.
  4. Notify stakeholders. Notify stakeholders such as customers, employees, vendors, and partners about the breach and its impact. This will enable them to take necessary precautions, such as changing passwords and monitoring their accounts for suspicious activity.
  5. Implement remedial measures. Implement remedial measures such as installing security patches, updating passwords, and enhancing network security to prevent future breaches.
  6. Monitor the systems. Monitor the affected systems and networks for any further attempts at unauthorized access or data theft. This will enable you to detect and contain any subsequent breaches quickly.

It is essential to note that containing a data breach is only the first step in managing the fallout of a breach. You will also need to take steps to mitigate the impact of the breach on your business, customers, and stakeholders, as well as comply with relevant regulations and industry standards. This may include providing credit monitoring and identity theft protection to affected customers, offering compensation or refunds, and undergoing compliance measures such as SOC or HIPAA audits.

Step 3: Call Your Managed IT Services Provider

Once the breach has been contained, you should contact your Managed IT Services provider. Your IT support team will work with you to assess the extent of the breach, identify the cause, and take measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. Outsourced IT companies are well-equipped to handle such situations and can provide quick responses.

Step 4: Check for Potential Compliance Issues

Compliance is essential, and a breach can expose your business to legal and regulatory penalties. It is important to ensure that your business is compliant with regulations such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and GDPR. Your Managed IT Services provider can help you assess your compliance with these regulations and recommend measures to ensure that you remain compliant.

Step 5: Use Network Design Consultants to Prevent Future Breaches

A network design consulting firm can help you assess your network design and make recommendations on how to improve it to reduce the risk of future breaches. By reviewing your network, they can identify vulnerabilities that hackers may exploit and provide you with recommendations to address them.

Step 6: Consider Setting up or Hiring a SOC

A Security Operations Center (SOC) is a team of security professionals that can help you monitor your network for security threats and respond to incidents. A SOC can help you detect threats early and respond quickly to contain them. It is recommended that you work with a Managed IT Services provider that has a SOC to help you respond to breaches quickly.

A data breach is no fun, to say the least. But by taking the right steps, you can minimize the damage and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. By working with a Managed IT Services provider, you can take proactive measures to reduce the risk of data breaches and ensure that you are compliant with regulations such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and GDPR.

With the help of Robust Networks, you can not only mitigate the effects of a breach, but you can also reduce the chances of getting hit by one in the first place. Contact Robust Networks today to learn how.