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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection The Resource Center | article

What You Need To Do After A Data Breach

Both consumers and businesses should have a plan in the event of a data breach.Data breaches are becoming exceedingly common, affecting even some big and trusted corporations. While you may not have to treat these incidents as an inevitability just yet, it’s beneficial to have a plan in the event that you become a victim. This rings true for businesses and consumers alike.

For businesses

A data breach can feel devastating to a business. It’s a blow to its security efforts and reputation, and recovery is often a grueling process. However, there are a few necessary steps that will help your business survive this experience:

Take action immediately
When you first learn of a security issue within your company, don’t let fear paralyze you. You’ll need to take action immediately to remedy the situation. Marc Malizia, the CTO of IT consulting firm RKON Technologies, told CIO that it’s important for businesses to address the issue and take the steps to correct it. It can also help to form a special taskforce to specifically handle the issue.

Communicate with customers
Suffering a data breach can lead to distrust from your customer base, which can ultimately damage your company. According to a study by Interactions, a consumer marketing group, 85 percent of shoppers affected by a data breach inform others of the experience. Additionally, 36 percent reported that they’d shop at the store less often because of the incident.

According to Forbes magazine, cybersecurity experts often emphasize the importance of transparency with customers. Communicating with them about the breach and how your company plans to handle it will be essential in restoring your reputation.

You should also consider partnering with a company that provides data breach services. A breach services partner can help you better protect your customers should the unthinkable happen and instill trust in your brand.

For consumers

As a consumer, it’s scary hearing that hackers were able to infiltrate a company that you trusted. Often, the first thought is wondering the fate of your information and if you’re going to become the victim of identity theft. Before you spiral into a panic, though, follow these steps:

Change all your passwords
When hackers access a company’s database, they may glean customers’ login information from it. If a company with whom you have an account is breached, the first important step is to change all your passwords. Because websites often use your email as part of your login information, this breach can lead hackers to other accounts.

Be sure to use a different password for each account, and update them frequently thereafter. For every password you make, use a different combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Make sure the words you use aren’t easy to guess, like a family name or a popular password like “football1234.”

Consider a credit freeze or fraud alert
Consumers have the option of freezing their credit file, barring the release of information without your permission. This can thwart criminals from trying to open accounts in your name after a data breach. A freeze can be lifted at any time when you’re ready to carry on normally.

If you don’t want to freeze your credit, you could instead apply a fraud alert. According to the Federal Trade Commission, this means businesses will have to verify your identity before allowing a new line of credit. If you’re really concerned about your credit card, you can always cancel and order a new one.

Keep an eye on your credit
Additionally, since you’re allowed a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every 12 months, you can use this right to look for errors after a data breach. FTC warns that even if the data breach didn’t expose your credit card information, hackers can still misuse Social Security Numbers, birth dates, addresses and other details to open a line of credit.

Use a monitoring service
If your worries persist, you can also invest in a service like Identity Guard, which can monitor your credit files and notify you of certain activity that may indicate fraud. Having this kind of watchful eye can help you take the necessary steps to recover after a data breach.