What Happens After a Business Data Breach?

A Data Breach occurs when sensitive information is stolen from an internal system without the authorization of the system’s owner.

Contrary to a popular belief, many cyber-attacks target small to medium sized businesses and not big companies. Small businesses often don’t have sophisticated cybersecurity in place, so they are much easier to hack than a large corporation that invests in strong cyber protection.

Small businesses possess valuable personal information about their clients, other businesses they cater to and all kinds of vendors and suppliers they work with. Remember that famous Target data breach? The hackers got in via an internet-connected HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) contractor. This is how hacking a much smaller company led to accessing a retail giant like Target. It is much easier to hack a small business and hackers know it.

Unfortunately, many business owners don’t understand the severity of a data breach’s consequences, so let’s have a look at what happens after a security breach occurs to get a better understanding.

Criminal investigation department


First, the business needs to understand the origin of the breach, which systems were affected and what data has been exposed. It means hiring an external security incident response specialist or a team to find and fix the issue as soon as possible. Once the IT professionals figure this out, the next step is to contain the breach and fix the issues in affected areas. Just this first stage alone can get very costly for a small company because in most cases the investigation completely paralyzes daily operations of the business until it’s completed, and it can take a while. Preliminary forensic audit costs between $8,000 and $20,000.


It’s important the customers, business partners or vendors know about the breach and can take preventative measures to secure their own data or inform their clients. For example, if credit card numbers were kept on file by the business and there was an exposure, the cardholders would need to know what happened and cancel their cards immediately. The victims will have a lot of questions, so the merchant would have to invest time and resources to properly address the questions coming in. The business also needs to notify local authorities, because hacking personal, financial or business data is a crime.

Gavel and dollars banknotes on table


If a merchant is not Payment Card Industry compliant at a time of a breach, the fines can be anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 in compliance fees alone. There is also a cost per card replaced and additional fines based on the number of cards exposed.

Brand Reputation Damage

Along with the profit loss comes irreparable reputation damage that can easily force a company out of business. Consumers put a lot of confidence into the business when they provide their personal and financial data and it’s hard to get the clients back if there is a breach of trust.

Action Plan

It’s much easier to prevent a data breach rather than deal with the costly consequences. Start by making sure that your business is Payment Card Industry compliant. We will be happy to guide you through the process and help you make your business more secure. We invite you to give us a call at +1 (855) 251-0151.


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