Data Breach Best Practices for Financial Institutions

by | Aug 20, 2020 | Managed Services, Security

There are few words scarier to a community bank than “data breach.” Just those two little words are enough to send shivers down the spine of anyone working in the financial sector. They mean your private business information – and potentially your clients’ as well – has been hacked, and you need to take action as quickly as possible to contain the damage.

If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to a data breach, there are a few things you should do right away to minimize the impact and safeguard your information so it doesn’t happen again.

Investigate the Situation Thoroughly

If you’ve identified a potential information breach, the first thing you’ll want to do is take a step back and investigate what led to the breach in the first place. Was it malware downloaded from a phishing email? Improper firewall rules? Unforeseen weaknesses in a business application? Any number of these can be exploited by hackers to obtain access to your data.

When conducting your investigation, make sure to collect critical information, including the breach source, the risk of current and potential damage, the systems involved, the personnel needed and mitigation steps required. By identifying where the vulnerability is, you can focus all of your efforts on fixing the issue rather than band-aiding a bunch of suspected origins. The more information you can gather at the outset, the more effective your mitigation process will be.

Act Quickly

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all manual to rectifying a breach, the information you collect during your investigation should dictate how you proceed. However, there is one near-universal when it comes to a security breach: act quickly.

In many hacking scenarios, a single device is programmed to spread infections to other devices on the network – similar to how a real infection spreads. The faster you’re able to contain it, the better chance you have of saving more devices and data.

An investigation should begin immediately after a breach, and mitigation action should start as soon as the organization has enough information to act effectively.

During the mitigation process, make sure actions and responsibilities are clearly assigned to different personnel. If everyone thinks someone else is handling an issue, it may go unaddressed and cause continual damage.

Establish Your Messaging

After a breach, you’ll need to let your customers know. Make sure your organization has all the facts straight about the breach and a clear plan for how to announce them. Notification laws vary by state regarding timing and level of detail reported to consumers. If you’re unsure about the laws in your state, you can look them up here.

Partner With a Cybersecurity Expert

The average length of time it takes for a company to realize they’ve been hit by a data breach is 146 days. In the financial industry, this can be a devastating blow to business, costing exorbitant amounts of money and time to rectify the damages that have been done.

If you suspect you’ve been hit by a data breach, partnering with a cybersecurity expert as quickly as possible will help put you back in business sooner than trying to navigate through it alone.

Partnering with a managed service provider not only puts your business systems into the skilled hands of technical experts, but it can also decrease the likelihood of a breach altogether. MSPs use their technical expertise and industry standards to safeguard your entire IT infrastructure with best-in-class security configurations like password policies, firewall optimization, email protection, and more, making it more difficult for hackers to access your information.

Final Thoughts

Even the most sophisticated financial institutions have fallen victim to hacking efforts. What sets them apart from other businesses is the companies they partner with and the way they respond to a breach.

If you’ve experienced a data breach before (hopefully, you haven’t), it can be a difficult situation to deal with on your own. Peters & Associates combines decades of experience working with banks, technical/security acumen, and the values of being a family-owned business to the world of community banks.

The skilled professionals at Peters offer a holistic approach to IT management and are extremely knowledgeable in the areas of security and data breach response plans.

Download the Incident Response Plan (IRP) Checklist for Community Banks today to learn more about what a cybersecurity expert like Peters can do for your business in the wake of a breach.

Download My Incident Response Plan (IRP) Checklist