Five steps to repair your reputation after a security breach

By: IT Donut contributor

Date: 7 April 2014

Even if you take every precaution imaginable, it’s still possible for your business to fall victim to a security breach. And while nobody wants to be that victim, it’s worth giving some thought to how you’d manage your reputation in the wake of a cyber-attack.

We reveal the five steps every business should take to minimise damage and rebuild their reputation.

1. Take control and act fast

When US retail giant Target suffered a huge data breach last year, one of the biggest criticisms levelled at the company is that it didn’t do a good job of acting quickly and communicating well with customers.

Don’t make that mistake. Once you’ve taken the necessary precautions to secure your systems, share information with your customers, employees and partners.

2. Be open and honest

Being as honest as possible when communicating the crisis will ultimately reassure customers that you are doing everything you can to resolve the issue and protect their details.

Hiding the truth from loyal customers will only damage your credibility in the long run. When tech firm Buffer was hacked, the company remained open and communicative throughout.

3. Provide helpful customer support

Do your best to provide first class support to any customers affected by the issue. They probably aren’t IT experts, so you’ll need to assist and reassure them if you want them to remain with your business.

Be on hand to respond to customer queries and you’ll retain your reputation and customer relationships long after the breach.

4. Remember - one size doesn’t fit all

Think about who you’re talking to when you communicate what’s happened. Tailor your message to address the concerns of each group.

For instance, while customers will be concerned about whether their data has been compromised, investors and partners will require specific information on how your company’s reputation, value and long-term prospects could be affected.

5. Don’t be afraid to apologise

You’ll be surprised at how far an apology goes. While many businesses will be quick to blame a third party for their security weaknesses, more switched on companies understand that customers don’t want to hear excuses.

Take ownership of your problems and be clear and compassionate about what went wrong, how you plan to fix things and why you can be certain this won’t happen again.

This post was written by Brittany Thorley, who regularly advises businesses about web security.

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