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What to do if your business is hacked

What should you do if your business is hacked?

Statistically speaking, being hacked is more an issue of ‘when’ and not ‘if'. In fact, from July 2021-22, 39% of UK businesses reported a cyberattack.1 Of those businesses, 31% estimate incidents occurred at least once a week.1

If you’re unfortunate enough to find your business on the receiving end of a hack or data breach, it can be easy to panic. But don’t let the situation become more problematic by delaying action. Be prepared and it will be much easier to navigate.

Implementing the following steps could help lessen the impact on your business.

What should I do if my business has been hacked?

Step 1: Recognise and respond

If you think your business has been hacked and can see a problem, then act quickly, even if you don’t know precisely what’s wrong. Notify your in-house IT team or external provider. Devise an action plan that may involve a total lockdown turning all systems off until you get a handle on what has happened. The faster you act, the better your chance to protect your business and customers’ data.

If you have a contingency plan, this is the time to implement it. A data hack or theft can put you out of business for weeks or months until your network is secure again. Ensure you minimise damage to existing clients and find an alternative way to keep the business running smoothly.

Finally, keep staff informed, especially those who deal directly with customers. Although a business data breach may not harm all of your systems, the reputational damage caused by the fallout from a breach could be more harmful. Keeping on top of communications internally and externally is critical.

Step 2: Data breach notification

Under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), all organisations must report certain personal data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority. And you must do this within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach, where feasible.2

A breach only needs to be reported if it is likely to risk the rights and freedoms of individuals. You’ll be expected to provide thorough information, clearly stating a data breach, when it occurred, and the nature of the information that was compromised. You’ll also need to inform them what steps you are taking to remedy the breach and provide updates when you learn more as the incident progresses.2

Does your business operate in a regulated industry? Companies operating in specific sectors, such as financial services or healthcare, may have additional notification requirements set out by industry regulating bodies. Be sure you’re familiar with them if they apply to your business.

Contact your local police to report the crime, and keep a record of any personal data breaches.

Step 3: Make a claim

Contact your broker immediately to start the claims process if you have a cyber insurance policy.3 If you don’t already have insurance in place, it may be the time to consider it. The right cover can help avoid a significant loss in income and prevent or minimise any potential reputational damage.

Step 4: Investigate your hack

Following a hacking incident, you will need to bring in a cybersecurity expert to test your network and establish the nature of the attack and which part of your network it’s affected.

You may decide to arrange for a cybersecurity firm to check for general weaknesses regularly to minimise the likelihood of future attacks.

Step 5: Protect against future cyberattacks

Education and awareness are the best prevention measures for cyberattacks. Your employees should be aware of the danger of the various types of cyberattacks. In the case of phishing scams, they need to be vigilant when responding to suspicious emails.

Front-line staff are your last wall of defence regarding phishing scams. Arrange training sessions for your employees with mock scenarios to help them identify phishing emails, for example.

Our colleagues in Marsh have also created a cyber incident response guide to enable you to better understand the steps you may need to take when navigating a cyber incident – get the guide here.

Cyber risks don’t just affect the big players – take action today

The UK’s data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is urging all businesses to be vigilant amid heightened cyber threats. Cyber risk is not only a problem for large businesses; UK small businesses are equally exposed.5 Research from insurer Markel indicates 51% of SMEs were victims of cybersecurity breaches in 2021. Of those polled, 53% of SMEs and self-employed workers said the attacks had impacted them financially, with over two-thirds (68%) reporting the cost of the breach was up to £5,000.6

We understand that making your business cyber-safe can feel like an overwhelming challenge. That’s why we’ve rounded up six controls to help strengthen your cybersecurity that your business could implement right now – read more.

For more support on cyber risk, visit our Risk Hub where you’ll find a wealth of tools and expert insights to help you combat data protection concerns and cybercriminal activity.5 Be sure to also visit the National Cyber Security Centre for more tips and approaches to managing your cyber risks.


The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable and should be understood to be general risk management and insurance information only. The information is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such. This article contains third party content and/or links to third party websites. Links to third party websites are provided as a convenience only. Marsh Commercial is not responsible or liable for any third party content or any third party website nor does it imply a recommendation or endorsement of such content, websites or services offered by third parties.

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Cybersecurity was highlighted as a key risk in our UK Business Risk Report, which features findings from 1,700+ businesses. Our report brings together insight, expert commentary, and guidance on how to turn today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities.

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