Is there anything more disheartening then discovering that you’ve been the victim of a data breach? When you realize that a hacker has accessed your most sensitive information, your emotions run the gamut from fear and panic to anger and maybe even a little embarrassment. How could this happen? And will you ever recover?
It’s completely normal to feel this way. When a hacker gets access to your data, it’s normal to feel violated and uncertain about what’s going to happen next. Even when you take the normal steps to protect yourself — changing your passwords, signing up for identity monitoring, notifying your creditors, etc., you might still feel like you haven’t done enough, and you’re never going to be the same again. And if it’s your business that’s been hacked? The idea of what might happen next is likely to keep you up at night.
Despite some of the gloom and doom reports you might see about what happens after a data breach, it is possible to bounce back. In fact, when you take time to consider your response before your information is exposed, a data breach is likely to end up being little more than an annoyance.
The Idea of Resilience
Resilience is the ability to overcome setbacks without too much difficulty. Rather than becoming mired in a victim mindset, focusing on the negative, resilient people are able to remain optimistic even in the face of trials and learn lessons from their experience. Psychologists note that people who are more resilient tend to have a greater feeling of control over their lives, and thus are less likely to be overwhelmed when things go wrong.
So what does all of this have to do with data breaches? Well, a growing trend in the realm of disaster planning — and a major data breach is considered a disaster — is the concept of planning for resilience. How will the company continue operations after a data breach, and learn from the experience?
Resilience planning is based on the idea that handling a data breach is not a question of if a breach occurs, but when. Taking all precautions to prevent the breach is imperative, but so is accepting the reality that hackers are continually looking for ways to thwart security, and will not stop until they find a way in.
It’s not a matter of simply accepting the inevitable and inviting hackers in, but preparing for the worst and knowing you can overcome whatever happens.
Developing Your Own Resilience Plan
One of the keys to being resilient is having a plan in place ahead of time of how to respond if you are the victim of a breach. Remember, resilience is about control, and a plan helps you feel more in control.
As you think about your plan, consider the following:
1. Think Like a Business
When businesses plan for disasters, they don’t say “Do we have this security measure in place?” They say, “What’s most important, and how do we protect it?” Do the same with your information and assets. What are the most important things for you to protect, and how can you do that? Installing the right internet security tools is a start, and will go a long way, but consider the possibility that you could be exposed via another source. What needs protecting the most, and how can you do that?
2. Keep Excellent Records
One of the most common reasons that disaster plans fail is that they are out of date or incomplete. When contact information is incorrect, information is missing, etc., it’s very hard to respond appropriately.
To ensure you have all of your bases covered, maintain accurate records of your accounts, including contact numbers and other information you need to report breaches and take action. Keep your information secure, i.e., not on your computer, but in a locked safety box or filing cabinet.
3. Adjust Your Expectations
Businesses have come to accept that being 100 percent secure is near impossible. You need to do the same. As long as you are online, using social media, etc., you are potentially exposed to a breach. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to hide from the world and shun electronics.
It means you need to be realistic, accept the risk, and be selective in what you expose while also taking every possible step you can to protect yourself. When you are realistic, and have a plan for responding, you’re less likely to freak out at every new threat, and take it in stride.
At the end of the day, the best way to bounce back from a breach is to remain calm, use common sense when it comes to risks, and be ready for anything. When you do, you won’t lose sleep the next time you learn that your favorite store has been hacked.