Cyberattacks are almost unavoidable now that everyone relies on the internet daily. While they may not be entirely preventable, you can be prepared in case a cyberattack happens to your organization.

When you find out your company has been compromised, you need to act as swiftly and efficiently as possible to minimize the damage. Here are a few ways to make sure you can show exemplary leadership in a time of cyber crisis.

1. Take Responsibility Where Needed

As soon as a security breach happens, you need to know exactly what to do, and you must act quickly. The longer you wait to tell the public after a breach of information, the more you may suffer ramifications, such as damage to your reputation, as has happened to companies in the past.

Though people may be less willing to trust companies with their information if they have experienced a security breach, they should hold more respect for them if they tell the public what happened sooner rather than later.

You must be a decisive leader and know how you will break the news to the public in a timely manner. The longer you wait, the worse it gets for your company – especially if you handle client data. One of the responsibilities of a leader is to know how to guide their team out of a difficult situation, and this one may test your limits and capabilities as the figurehead of your company.

2. Understand the Sources

Examine the sources that every piece of knowledge comes from. In a dire situation, rumors can spread fast and evolve into falsehoods that are assumed truthful. Get your information from a source you trust rather than listening to every bit of information, whether it may be from speculating employees or online comments.

Examine the sources of information closely so that you know exactly what to report to your employees or the public. They will see you as their leader, able to pick the truth out of a sea of misinformation, and you don’t want to report the wrong thing.

3. Make a Game Plan

Once news breaks that you have experienced a cyberattack, your employees will look to you to guide them through it. You need to develop a clear and concise game plan that will lead them out of the cyberattack.

You may start out by informing all affected parties and apologizing, especially if the cyberattack originated because of something you or an employee did wrong, whether directly or indirectly.

From there, you can work on how you plan to fix things. Will you have your IT team start safeguarding all of your technology while you look into future preventive measures, or will you educate your team about the safety of working online? Your game plan should outline a roadmap of what you plan to do over the coming weeks and months to recover from the cyberattack.

4. Fix What Can Be Fixed Immediately

Depending on the type of cyberattack you’re dealing with, it may be difficult to find things to fix right away. One thing you can do to protect your devices is to back up their information frequently.

Choose to back up files on an external device so you can have your backups ready if you somehow cannot retrieve the original files on the corrupted device. Doing so will save you plenty of time in the event of a cyberattack. Implementing regular backups can also help you avoid a crisis in the future.

5. Communicate Proactively

Reactive communication would likely only create a worse situation. Think about your words and actions before you react with them. When you communicate with your employees about the state of the cyberattack, make sure to have face-to-face communication, as it allows you to express yourself fully and leave nothing to be misunderstood through text.

If you cannot communicate directly with your employees, host a video call so they may see your facial expressions when you talk to them.

6. Inform Public Authorities

If necessary, you may also need to reach out to public authorities about the cyberattack, especially if you think important data was stolen. At that point, it becomes a crime and the authorities may be able to help you track down the criminal or group that attacked you.

This action may not be applicable to every situation, especially if a data breach is a result of an employee’s oversight. Still, when in doubt, involve the authorities to whatever extent you see fit.

7. Present the Right Attitude

While being overly positive may be uncalled for in this situation, you can remain hopeful that your organization will emerge triumphantly from a massive cyberattack. Feeding your employees false hope will only crush their spirits if the attack proves to be more devastating than previously thought.

Carry yourself with a positive attitude – one that asserts your organization will pull through the attack. In this way, you may inspire your employees, your clients, and anyone else affected to have hope, too.

8. Pick Your Partners Carefully

Incident response companies can help you handle your business and team during such a critical time – especially if you have no idea what to do next. Third-party actors can take some of the stress off your team to respond appropriately, which can be a life saver if you’ve never dealt with a cyberattack before. Incident response teams can analyze just how bad a breach was and communicate to all affected parties on your behalf.

The right third-party associates can help you understand what to do at every step of the journey. If you don’t know what to address first or how to start protecting your business again, look into an incident response company to help you manage all the tricky parts. To help determine which third parties to trust, ask questions such as:

  • What experience do you have in my industry?
  • What are you actively doing to prevent security breaches?
  • Has your security been audited by an independent third party?

With outside help, you’ll have a more professional and objective look at what to prioritize, and you can focus on getting your business back on track while the third party handles mitigating any damage.

9. Focus on One Day at a Time

After a cyberattack, your team may feel raw and defeated. Sometimes, employees may make mistakes based on user errors. When something may technically be their fault, you don’t want them to shoulder the responsibility for this error. Encourage your employees by educating them on the dangers of ransomware and phishing. Education is the best tool you have to help them avoid any similar issues in the future.

Day by day, work on recovering from the cyberattack. The best policy is to keep all of your essential software updated, as the updates usually contain security patches to protect your company’s devices. Turn on automatic updates so your employees and their sensitive information can have the latest protection at all times.

Your situation may change from day to day, so remain flexible and prepared to take what comes.

10. Show Up for Others

You want to be there for your employees during this stressful time. Even if the cyberattack wasn’t their fault in the slightest, you’re bound to have some employees who will feel responsible or nervous about the situation.

As a leader, remaining strong is one of the most important things you can do in a time of crisis. People will look to you as a firm foundation during this time, so you must assure them that you will stick to the plan and help them through this process however you can.

11. Keep All Parties Updated

Make a list of all parties who are affected by the cyberattack, whether it’s just your employees or your clients. These are the people you will have to answer to and the ones who will hang on your words to know the latest updates on the situation. Everyone will want to know the latest news on whether their information is secure, so you must provide them with updates any time essential information is released.

Keep them updated so they have a better opportunity to know what to do with their information and when they can expect the situation to be fixed.

12. Prepare a Plan for Next Time

In the age of the internet, security breaches and cyberattacks are bound to happen. You can’t always stop them, so the best way to fight against them is to be prepared in case it happens to your organization. Setting up a crisis team can help you know what communications to prioritize and who should be working on what.

You may also choose a spokesperson to be the main communicator between your company and the public so they know how to handle your audience on every platform.

Demonstrate Leadership Whenever You Can

People find out who they are in the midst of a crisis. You may have to deal with a cyberattack soon enough, if you haven’t experienced one already. Stand strong and create a plan as soon as possible. In time, you’ll start to have a handle on the situation and right any wrongs that may have been done.

It might be a rough road, but as long as you present yourself as a strong leader, you can help your organization come out of the attack with a better plan and a brighter future.

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