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You’ve Been Hacked! What Steps Should You Take To Minimise Damage?


It could happen to you. This is true of winning the lottery, and unfortunately, also true of drawing the short straw and ending up falling victim to a major cyber attack.
In days gone by, hackers were mostly interested in big businesses where potential for larger profits were spotted. But with a growth in small to medium sized businesses and the changing technology landscape, ever-sophisticated hacks are being let loose on unsuspecting start-ups and small enterprises, tripping up business owners and costing not only money, but customers too.

Taking proactive steps to protect yourself from an attack is always wise. But if you do fall prey to a cyber hack, whether it be a relatively small, localised hack such as being booted out of your own social media accounts, or a major spread of malware affecting you entire IT network, there are steps you can take. Here is our advice:
 

Pull your systems offline and unplug

 

To contain an attack, it must be stopped in its tracks before it can spread. It is therefore imperative that you close down your computers, business phones and any other online systems. You may also want to temporarily shut down your business’s social media accounts.


Try to establish when the hack took place


Some hacks are obvious – they hit hard and fast as soon as your computer becomes infected. But others are slow growing, subtle and can be in your systems for days, weeks or even months before you notice a problem. Try to establish whether there’s been any recent unusual behaviour within your IT system worth noting. Also, think back to any suspicious emails that have landed in your business inbox. This information will be important once you begin the process of restoration and recovery.


Notify banks and other financial providers


With any hack comes the risk that your company’s financial information has been stolen, including credit card details, banking log ins and customer data. Before taking any other action, you must call these financial providers and tell them about the potential data breach so that they can take steps to protect your accounts. The quicker you act on this, the less chance there is of real money being taken from your business.


Notify your customers


Not long ago, businesses considered it to be poor form to notify customers of a data breach in case customers lost trust in them. But actually, lessons from the recent past have shown us that the opposite is true. Almost all of your customers will want to know if their data has been compromised and will see it as a positive step that they’ve been informed. Once your systems are down and you’ve managed to establish a rough timeframe from the day of the hack to the day of detection, you can give customers sound information on how they may be affected and what they need to do. In some smaller hacking cases, the customers may have received a spam-like email or Facebook message from your company asking them to perform a task, such as logging into a phony account or sending a payment for an outstanding invoice. In more extreme cases, the customers’ entire financial profile may have been stolen, compromising their credit card details and personal information. Once your customer knows the extent of the potential damage, they can take steps to protect themselves.


Bring in the experts to begin recovery


Don’t try to fix the hack yourself. It is important that you speak to a professionally trained and certified security technician who can assess the damage and take steps to repair and restore your systems without allowing the hack to hide or spread. If your hack was relatively minor, for example, your Twitter account was hacked and hijacked for a short space of time, you can change your password and this should resolve the problem in the short term.

However, hacks are often more sophisticated than they seem and if they’ve targeted one area of your business, the chances are others are affected too. At Storm Internet, we can be on hand 24 hours per day, 7 days per week as part of our flexible managed hosting package to help spot a hack, stop it in its tracks and take rapid measures to keep your business moving forward to ensure continuity to your customers. Call us today to discuss how we can help you.