By Charles Leaver

Making sure your business is prepared for a breach

The malicious attack on Target’s security system and the recent finding that the malware that exposed 110 million customers’ private information likely came from a single phishing email suggests that businesses of all sizes need to examine their endpoint protection software to stave off similar attacks. The fallout from the breach has tarnished Target’s reputation, and led to the retail giant offering free credit monitoring for all customers as a compensatory measure.

But businesses that have the proper tools in place to protect against data leakage can avoid a similar sequence of events. According to financial education expert Adam Levin, small businesses are bound to face data breaches. Any database with customer information presents the possibility of monetary gain for hackers, and therefore is their first target. But the outcome of individual data breaches rests on how businesses choose to handle those attacks. Levin offered some proactive measures to businesses for recuperating from a breach. Here are a few notable suggestions:

Have a plan
This may seem intuitive, but a surprising number of businesses lack the basic recovery plan to mitigate damages in the event of a breach. The first item on the plan should be a series of guidelines for dealing with distressed customers. Lacking proper communication in a time of crisis is a quick way to lose customers’ trust and, shortly after that, their business. Direct and clear communication following a breach provides customers which the assurance that they’re being looked after.

Offer benefits to customers
Customers will understandably expect to receive some kind of recompense for the exposure of their data. Offering free credit monitoring is quickly becoming a best practice for companies hit by data breaches. However, it is important that the monitoring service provided is comprehensive and will fully meet your customers’ needs. Target is currently under scrutiny for offering what experts consider a sub​-par credit monitoring service for its customers, Mother Jones reported. This was a self-sabotaging move for the retail giant, because it further compromises their reputation in the public light.

Have a strategy for dealing with the media
Customers won’t be the only group who look to companies following a data breaches. News cameras and microphones may very well find their way into the mix too. Therefore it is important to have a solid PR strategy in place to address the fallout.

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