As a business owner, you’ve spent a good amount of time developing protocols to keep your customers’ data safe. Strong passwords, security education for employees, data backups, you think you’ve covered all your bases. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, hackers are usually one step ahead. If an employee clicks a malicious link, your customers’ confidential information is potentially exposed. Do you know what your next steps are? How can you minimize the damage to your business after a data breach?
You may have a general crisis communication plan already in place; however, a data breach requires more planning. Be sure to have a designated spokesperson for the company and that other employees know to refer all statement requests to that person. As soon as the breach is found, meet with company executives and IT professionals to assess what information was accessed and what the next steps are for securing customers’ data.
Once you’ve determined the extent of the data exposed, it’s important to communicate directly, clearly, and honestly with customers as soon as possible. The speed and tone of your communication can make a huge difference in how customers react to the news of your breach. Communicate with affected customers before making public statements. Describe what happened and your plan to fix it. Afterwards, address the breach on your public website or social media pages. Update the statement as needed as you discover more information about the breach or as you fix the issue that was exploited. This article has a good example of a company that got out ahead of the news of a security breach and maintained their customers’ trust throughout the process.
Experiencing a data breach can seriously harm your business’ reputation. However, by acting quickly to secure data and communicating well with customers, you can minimize the damage and hopefully keep your customers’ trust.
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