How to Recover Your Business Reputation Following a Hack
We’ve reached a stage where business owners are fully aware of the challenges that cyberattacks can bring. For example, a successful attack can result in data loss, ransomware demands, damage to network infrastructure, and more.
As someone responsible for the finances and growth of a company, it is natural to think about the direct impact on your money first. However, cyberattacks can also involve another, more hidden charge – the effect on your reputation and customer trust.
The Hidden Challenge of Being Hacked
Any business that operates without adequate protection and preparation for a cyberattack is always at risk. You might think you are too small to be a target or confident that if everything went down, you could have it back up and running without issue. However, without proper protection, the risks are very real.
The fewer defences you have in place, the more likely you are to suffer from a successful attack, and the consequences can be fatal for the company.
This is not just an issue for a handful of companies. 60% of small and medium companies that suffer a cyberattack go out of business within six months of being a target. Some fail to retrieve the data they need to keep going, while others lose too much money.
However, a significant proportion loses the one thing more valuable to a business than anything else: customer confidence.
It is no longer good enough to hope the news goes away. Security breaches make mainstream news, and virtually everyone understands the implications of a successful hack. It can be extremely difficult to recover once people know your business has fallen victim. Unless you manage the fallout appropriately, most people will assume that if it happened once, there is every chance it could happen again. You need to be prepared to give them a reason to take that risk.
How Hacks and Data Breaches Affect Your Reputation
No business wants to be hacked, and doing nothing at all should be considered along the same lines as actively sabotaging your business and your customers. Defences against attacks aren’t completely fool proof, but they give a company that has them a far better chance of survival than one that does not.
Could your business survive if your customer base was reduced by a third overnight? Research indicates that 33% of people will no longer do business with a company that has leaked any of their personal data.
The very worst thing you can do is ignore it. Instead, do the following should you experience a cyberattack:
Inform Your Customers
One way to immediately rebuild trust with affected parties is to be the bearer of bad news. If a customer hears about an attack from you, along with notes on how you are responding and what is being done, then you have control of the story. Conversely, if they hear about it in the media, they can put whatever spin takes their fancy on it.
Once customers are informed, it is time to take the lead on making sure whatever happened to your company never happens again. Speak to regulators, notify law enforcement and call an emergency meeting with the IT team. Ideally, you will already have a plan in place, but if you do not, it is not too late to put things right.
Increase Your Online Security
Hopefully, you’ll be one of the 40% of SMBs that make it out alive after a cyberattack. Would you really want to roll the dice again in the future? Once again, in an ideal world, your business would already have world-class cyber defences in place before an attack. But, if a successful one is a trigger that you need to do something about it, so be it.
Update Your Corporate Software
Does your business have someone in charge of ensuring that your software, operating systems, and servers are always up-to-date? Probably not. However, it is an underestimated role that can be pivotal in staving off hacks and exploits. Most software updates and patches are released with security in mind. 74% of threats in Q1 2021 were zero-day malware attacks, so it is crucial to upgrade the tools your business relies on as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
Commit to a Cybersecurity Strategy
Once your customers have been informed and you have upgraded your defences, it is time to start thinking longer term. Task someone with making your corporate cybersecurity a priority. Investigate weak points in your network. Reassess how you treat remote employees regarding security and understand the actual impact of a data breach to your business.
Threats adapt and evolve all the time, so you can never consider the job being done. Your defences need to grow at the same rate or faster to ensure your business survives, so make a commitment that whatever has happened already will never be repeated.
Wrapping Up – Hack Prevention Must-Haves
Some entrepreneurs do not even want to consider the possibility of their business being hacked. However, you should accept that it is always a possibility and do all you can to stay ahead of the curve.
Protecting Your Business with an MSP
An MSP, or managed service provider, is ideal for companies without the resources to protect themselves. You might outsource your accounts or marketing. There are plenty of business-critical reasons to do the same with your cybersecurity if you want your brand to survive growing threats.
Some MSPs are better than others when it comes to protection and recovery. Some rely on tools and software that are widely available and often widely targeted. Others provide a more custom approach, whereby they get to know your business, its goals, and any weak points in the security strategy. You can contact us to see how we can help.
If an MSP is Unavailable
The right MSP represents incredible value – they are relatively inexpensive compared to the potential losses resulting from a cyberattack. However, they are an additional expense and, like most services, require a degree of planning and thought. If you are not ready to commit, any defence is better than nothing, so prioritize by ensuring your business uses the following:
- Licensed software: Software can be expensive, especially when you require multiple licenses. However, inauthentic software can be a costly security mistake, as it is often modified from the real thing and usually cannot accept official updates. That effectively means no way to patch security vulnerabilities, providing an open invitation to attackers.
- Regular patch updates: When you have genuine software, you will receive regular updates. As mentioned already, these are often for security purposes rather than features and design. Exploits are being identified at a rate of around 20 per month in 2021, with Microsoft software the primary target. Turn on automatic updates if you can, and prioritize them for all employees if you do them manually.
- Keep regular backups: Data loss can be inconvenient at best and financially crippling at worst. So always consider the information you need to keep the business running smoothly and ensure you are never reliant on only one copy. Crucially, ensure that your other versions are never stored so they can interact with the original. Otherwise, malware could spread to every iteration.
- Use an up-to-date antivirus system: Consumers are mainly moving away from antivirus software as free tools like Windows Defender generally meet all their needs. However, it is a different story for businesses, which are far more likely to be targeted directly. Professional antivirus tools can monitor your systems in real-time. If a threat appears, it could be the difference between cutting it off before it can do any damage and it spreading to every device in your organization.
The costs of a successful cyberattack can extend far beyond your bank account. Most businesses put their customers first as they would not have a company without them. Therefore, it is important to prioritize them in the event of a data breach, especially if their information is involved. Of course, they are just one reason to focus on cybersecurity, and remember, you are never too small to become a target. If you have money, data, or both, like most businesses, you are always a potential target, and there’s no time like the present to set up your defences. Contact us to explore more about cybersecurity plan