Who hasn’t heard a horror story about someone getting hacked? Major tech companies… boxed-shaped superstores… your second cousin, Caroline. Hacking happens. And while there are many steps to help prevent the situation, none of that will help once you’ve been pervaded by imposters.

In recent years, these cyber crooks have been honing in on small business. Think about it: who better to target than the unguarded mom-and-pop shops with minimal network security or savvy? In many ways, these businesses are most vulnerable to attacks. With a little help from Entrepreneur.com, we bring you these tips for bouncing back after a hack:

Find out what happened 

In most cases, it can be vital to bring in a professional to monitor and assess the who, what, where, when, and how of a system breach. How many computers were accessed? What data was taken or seen? These questions can be difficult to answer without the right assistance. And answering these questions is absolutely vital for the security of your business. Asking your Internet Service Provider, local police department, or even the FBI can yield favorable results in tracking down your hacker.

Seek legal advice 

If a hacker has gone far enough to access information from your customers (such as their names, addresses, credit card or account numbers, social security numbers, etc.), you most likely have a legal obligation to notify them of a system breach. Hiring an attorney versed in cybercrime can help you navigate the tides of a heist. If you are business with access to clients’ personal information, protecting that information is KEY! You will be more than likely liable for stolen information.

Communicate early and often 

Honesty will set you free! Or at least get the ball rolling. If your system has been breached, notifying your employees, coworkers, and customers is a best practice. Being clear, quick, and honest about a breach and your current plan to handle it, could save some rapport with public perception. Holding onto trust with your customers is as important as handling a crisis. They need to know it’s being handled.

Eliminate the problem 

Depending on the extent of a breach, your costs for eliminating the problem may skyrocket. Temporarily retiring your website, or even removing infected computers and devices may be necessary to ensure your network is “clean.” Even resetting a computer or restoring to a backup can be ineffective. Having a professional involved will be instrumental in diagnosing the issue—and remedying it.

Rebuild 

Put in place the technology and policies to help fend off future attacks. Make sure your computer operating system and other software are current and, if possible, receiving automatic updates to fix bugs. Consider designating one computer for online banking only, meaning no Web surfing and no email that might expose you to malware designed for financial fraud.

Taking the steps to implement the technology and policies needed to combat future attacks from hackers can save you a lot of time, money, and man-hours—not to mention the potential legal woes you and your company may find yourself in. If you’ve experienced a breach—large or small—take it as a learning lesson. Devising a plan to patch the holes and secure your system will guard your greatest asset: your clientele.

Think about devoting a single computer to the sole use of banking and payment information. Avoid emails and the internet altogether on this device, as to cut your risk of exposure to malware or spyware applications. And remember to keep your system up-to-date on all other devices.

For more information on securing your network, or recoiling after a breach, contact an expert at MAX Communications: 856.825.6000.