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What happens when a business gets hacked?

The list of organisations that are hacked grows daily, while the cost of data breaches is also on the rise. While every company hopes it won’t happen to them, hackers are learning more sophisticated methods to breach an organisation’s digital security. 

Everyone is vulnerable to the threat posed by cyber criminals, and over the years there have been some high-profile cases affecting a number of household names. Facebook, LinkedIn and recently, T-Mobile have all been compromised, resulting in enormous amounts of data and information being extracted.

It’s a problem that’s both costly to businesses financially (the average cost of a data breach in the UK growing to nearly £2.7 million) and in terms of reputational damage.

And hackers aren’t slowing down. With more and more people at home, online and consuming information, hackers have become savvier and have taken advantage of the coronavirus as a way to spread ransomware, install malware and direct users to fraudulent webpages.

We know that cybercriminals are out there, but what really happens when you a business gets hacked?

What happens when a business gets hacked?

Generally, computer hackers gain access to a computer system by exploiting a flaw in the software or configuration, or by using stolen usernames or passwords. 

Once a hacker has access to a system, they can impersonate legitimate users by accessing their data, as well as change their files and configurations, or they can manipulate other devices connected to the compromised computer.

While it’s often the high-profile companies that make the news, small and medium-sized businesses face the most attacks from hackers. 

It’s therefore essential that proper cyber crisis management strategies are in place to deal with a breach and to minimise the damage or downtime. 

The network’s been hacked, what’s next?

The sooner an organisation responds to a data breach the more money they can save and the more reputation they save.

Once the threat or vulnerability has been detected and verified, the first step is to determine which IP addresses were used in the attack and confirm the type of attack faced by your company. Is it a virus, malware, unauthorised remote access or otherwise?

Responding quickly and alerting the company to the issue is imperative to stop further attacks. Warning users on the network immediately will help stop the spread and ensure any further damage.

From there, blocking infected networks, identifying and investigating the and determining if there’s any backdoors the hackers may have set up to enable future access to the system will help contain the damage and stop disruption to operations on a larger scale.

Any computers or servers that have been attacked will need recovery time after the incident. Processes such as installing the most recent clean backup and changing all of the passwords for the impacted systems will need to be carried out.

The final step is to take preventative measures going forward. It’s vital to solve the issue that caused the breach to happen in the first place. This could be in the form of hiring a security consultant, performing an audit and certainly undertaking security training all employees both current and future.

Of course, it’s better to put the best processes in place from day one in order to prevent an attack as best as possible. 

What can you do to avoid being hacked? 

Educate your employees – Create a plan that will educate your employees on what a cyber-attack is, what happens when it occurs and what they can do to avoid putting your businesses data and sensitive information in danger.

The plan should cover key topics such as:

  • Keeping passwords secure
  • Avoiding password repetition
  • Sharing too much personal information
  • Clicking on links and downloads
  • Updating antivirus and malware protections

It’s important that employees understand the importance of following protocol and questioning credibility before acting on anything.

Keep your software up to date hackers seek to exploit flaws in computing software. To avoid this happening, ensure your software is up to date and pay special attention to the various security fixes that software creators roll out. 

Software and development companies are always adding new security protocols to their products, but they don’t work unless you update them. 

Encrypt customer data – this security measure is designed to protect sensitive data from being accessed by parties that do not have the right to access it. Although there is still potential for encrypted data to be hacked, it is extremely difficult, time-intensive and involves a huge amount of technical knowledge.

Analyse previous attacks – If you’ve been unlucky enough to have already been hacked, take the situation as a learning experience. Try and learn as much as possible about how the attack happened in the first place and why your business may have been the target. 

If you can understand the motives behind an attack, you can create a better security plan that will reduce the likelihood of something similar happening again. 

As technology becomes more advanced, and more businesses store private information, the amount of hacking incidents will increase. 

With smaller businesses more typically more susceptible to attacks, it’s important that you have the right security measures and a suitable plan in place, so that if the worst does happen and you’re hacked, you can minimise the damage.  

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