Dealing With Strong Emotions In The Aftermath Of A Data Breach
Smart decision makers are aware that their IT systems and data security processes must be effectively secured in order to stand firm against the most purposeful and tenacious physical as well as online criminal attacks. It is important that businesses cut down the risk of exposure by employing up-to-date security software and anti-malware technologies with the help of outsourced IT expertise to constantly test their cyber defence strengths and invest in training their employees with up-to-date information while complying with the most rigorous security protocols. In addition, it is also important that businesses investigate leading vendors and decide on installing the best security equipment customised to their requirements. Overall it is most important that all of these factors are constantly monitored. Having done all that, every business must then be prepared to deal with any form of damage in spite of best efforts taken to prevent data breaches or a data security attack.
Somewhere between the technical factors involved in preparing the data for damage and training individuals as well as tracking sensitive data, an important factor is completely overlooked: gearing up to handle the strong emotions of customers or employees whose data have been breached.
Any individual who discovers that his data has been illegally accessed and exposed, especially if it is classified information, is sure to be overwhelmed with strong negative emotions such as shock, fright, anger, concern and worry. Even though cyber terrorists and infiltrators are anonymously lurking behind an invisible curtain and are busy stealing and selling stolen data on illegal sites, victims of a data security attack only have one target for their negative emotions: your business.
You might be able to talk at length about the advanced, futuristic DRM software that you have invested in and the incessant training you have imparted to your employees and everything done in between to protect the data and in spite of your untiring efforts, the attack was inevitable. But no matter how much you have invested in securing your data, a data security attack or a data breach not only harms the reputation of your organisation but has also disrupted the financial lives of your loyal audience whose data have been compromised.
Every business that invests in strategically planning a data security system must build empathy, transparency and urgency in their planning mechanisms. This means that the organisation must not wait until it is being exposed by the media to sensitively and properly inform their customers. It is important to notify your customers or clients the moment the data security in your system has been secured and the formation of unjust damage has been affirmed. The only way to assist your victimised customers and sustain a long term relationship with them is to deal with the incident with a sense of urgency.
Without endangering any current law enforcement probe, it is important to be as transparent as possible with your customers. Be open with what you are aware about the data security attack, how you speculate it will impact your current customer base and what you firmly propose to do to redress the damage. Depicting the attackers as high-tech computer prodigies who breached into a heretofore dense and incomprehensible system is only going to boomerang when some aspirational newsperson exposes that your system was violated using basic and rudimentary hacking codes and that your IT team dismissed alerts without doing anything about it.
Most importantly, display genuine empathy. Even as you have been preparing your business by employing the latest techniques or training your personnel, your customers absolutely did not expect to experience any form of data security breach. It is important that the feelings of your customers be treated with sensitivity, respect and empathy and in turn your employees must also be trained to do so and work towards assuaging their misgivings with accurate data, and if possible, with some form of resolution services.
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The writer is an IT professional. He works in the field of online data security, data theft and data management and is sharing his experience here, helping people understand the importance of securing documents and intellectual properties.