Guide to recovering from a data breach

The threat of cybercrime continues to increase. In 2022, 39% of UK organisations reported being attacked, and data breaches cost organisations an average of £4200.  Cybersecurity breaches can happen as a result of phishing attacks, malware, DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, brute force attacks, Man-in-the-Middle attacks, SQL injections, and many other types of attacks.

Among others, they can cause operational instability, damage a company’s reputation, and even leave them liable to lawsuits.

How to prevent a data breach

Of course, it is best to avoid data breaches happening in the first place. This can be achieved by implementing strong cybersecurity measures. These include regular security audits, employee training, strong access controls, and authorisation procedures, regular software patching, encryption of sensitive data, and network monitoring.

Data interception often happens when organisations use unsecured networks vulnerable to unauthorised access. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) can help by encrypting data transmitted between members of an organisation, so nobody outside the organisation can access it. The most secure VPNs use 256-bit encryption, which has the highest level of security. Using a VPN with 256-bit encryption like ExpressVPN in the United Kingdom can help you to keep networks and data secure.

What steps to take after a data breach

After a cybersecurity breach, it’s vital to act swiftly and follow an incident response plan. An effective incident response plan consists of:

  • Containment and Assessment: Your immediate priority is to contain the breach to prevent it from spreading. Isolate affected systems and networks to stop the attacker from accessing others that may be connected. Next, determine the extent of the breach and identify which data and systems have been compromised. Understand how the attack happened, and which vulnerabilities enabled the breach.
  • Implementation of Fixes: Close the vulnerabilities that led to the breach. Patch and update systems, change passwords for all users of organisational systems, and bolster security measures.
  • Disclosure: If any sensitive customer data has been compromised, you should inform affected individuals, customers, or regulatory bodies. Depending on the country where you conduct your business, you may even be legally obliged to do so. Develop a clear communication plan to address the breach internally and externally. Inform employees and ready a statement for your customers.
  • Investigation: Contact cybersecurity professionals that can help you conduct a thorough investigation. This can help identify the cause of the breach and mitigate future risks. Professionals can also provide advice on strengthening your cybersecurity to avoid future breaches.
  • Legal Compliance and Preservation of Evidence: You may need to preserve any evidence related to the breach for potential legal actions or law enforcement investigations. This can include logs, server images, and any other relevant data. Ensure that you comply with any additional legal or industry-specific requirements related to data breaches.

To prevent future breaches, you’ll need to continue taking action after your initial response. This can involveconducting cybersecurity training for employees to educate them on the importance of security and how to recognise potential threats like phishing emails. If the breach happened through a third-party vendor, assess their security practices and investigate any potential impact on your organisation.

You should also conduct a thorough review of the incident response process to identify any weaknesses or areas for improvement. Incident response plans vary — if in doubt, check out BlueVoyant’s examples from trusted bodies.

The importance of qualified experts

Organisations that process sensitive data should always have in-house staff who are trained in cybersecurity. Recruiting a Data Protection Officer (DPO) and coming up with robust data governance policies is highly recommended. LinkedIn’s DPO hiring guide can be useful here.

Every cybersecurity breach is unique, and the response plan can vary depending on the specific situation and organisation. It’s best to have a well-prepared incident response plan in place before a breach occurs so that you can respond quickly and effectively if needed. If a breach does happen, follow the plan and then use the lessons learned to improve your organisation’s overall cybersecurity.

Source: Cybersecurity Recovery Guide: How to Recover from a Data Breach (


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