How to Restore Customer Trust After a Data Breach

Do you know what takes years to build and seconds to lose? Trust. A single click on a malicious link can trigger a cascade of events leading to a data breach, the reputational cost of which may exceed its direct financial impact.

A survey by security company revealed that almost one in four Americans would stop doing business with any organization that had been hacked, and more than two in three people would trust an organization less after a data breach. These stats show how important it is for organizations to have a comprehensive data breach response plan to restore customer trust.

Use the response plan below as a starting place to build your own.

3 Steps to Restore Customer Trust After A Data Breach

Step #1: Notify All Affected Parties

Once you become aware of a data breach, various clocks begin ticking. Each clock represents a different security breach notification law and imposes a specific deadline for disclosing the breach. It is vital to act quickly and comply with all relevant laws to protect affected individuals and your organization.

If you don’t act quickly enough, you can face hefty penalties and additional loss of trust. When writing this article, all 50 states have enacted security breach notification laws. Still, there are no data breach notification laws at the federal level. If your customers are located outside the United States, you need to follow their local regulations – such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Since it’s practically guaranteed that there will be a lot on your plate following a data breach, we strongly advise you to hire an attorney to help you untangle security breach notification laws instead of attempting to do so on your own.

Step #2: Be Honest and Transparent

Your customers trusted you with their personal data, and their trust is now broken. To fix your situation, you need to give your customers a good reason to trust you again, and openly explaining what happened is a good start. Even though you may feel that you’re as much of a victim as your customers – because cybersecurity has always been your top priority – it is crucial to carefully review your controls and assess your responsibility in the breach with them.

Until you understand exactly how the breach happened, it’s okay to admit that you don’t have all the answers yet. Your customers will value that you’re not trying to hide anything from them and respect you for your honesty.

Step #3: Explain How You Intend to Fix the Problem

Customers affected by a data breach can appreciate honest communication, but what they’re really looking for are concrete actions your organization is taking to resolve the data breach. More specifically, you should explain how you intend to:

  • Prevent additional data from leaking.
  • The steps you’re taking to restore your systems.
  • The controls you’re implementing to fix discovered security vulnerabilities.

A provider of managed cybersecurity services can assist you with these activities, and your customers will be happy to know that you’ve partnered with knowledgeable experts. Of course, you don’t have to explain minute technical details—your customers don’t care about them. They want to see you tighten up your security to protect their data better in the future.

Align Your Defenses with Current Threats

The real work begins after you’ve familiarized your customers with the controls you plan to implement to strengthen your defenses: their actual implementation. Once again, you want to avoid spreading yourself too thin and losing focus on your core business,

An ongoing partnership with a provider of managed cybersecurity services pays dividends in this regard – ensuring continued protection against the latest cyber threats.

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