Handling Customer Communication in the Wake of a Cybersecurity Breach

Small business executives planning communication in the wake of a cyber breach

The aftermath of a cybersecurity breach demands careful, strategic communication to maintain customer trust and loyalty. For small and medium-sized businesses, the way they handle post-breach communication can be the difference between surviving the reputational damage and going out of business entirely.

This article provides a guide for businesses on how to effectively communicate with customers following a cybersecurity incident. From the immediate steps to long-term strategies, it covers the essentials of transparent, empathetic, and proactive communication, ensuring that businesses can navigate this tricky terrain with confidence and clarity.

At the end of the article we share an email template you can customize for your initial notification, should you ever find yourself in the difficult position of needing to send this type of email.

Immediate Communication Steps

When a cybersecurity breach occurs, the first step in customer communication is to acknowledge the incident promptly and transparently. This initial outreach is critical in setting the tone for future interactions and in shaping customer perceptions. Here’s how to approach it:

  • Immediate Acknowledgment: As soon as you have verified the breach, inform your customers without unnecessary delay. This demonstrates responsibility and responsiveness.
  • Key Elements of Initial Communication:
    • Acknowledgment of the Incident: Clearly state that a breach has occurred.
    • Reassurance: Inform customers about the immediate actions taken to secure the system and protect their data.
    • Commitment to Transparency: Assure customers that they will be kept informed as more information becomes available.
  • Choosing the Right Communication Channels: Use the most effective channels to reach your customers, such as email, official statements on your website, or press releases. The choice depends on the nature of your business and your customer base.

Crafting the Message

The way you communicate about the breach is as important as the communication itself. Crafting the right message can help maintain customer trust.

  • Honesty and Clarity: Be upfront about what happened, but avoid overwhelming customers with technical jargon or unnecessary details that might cause confusion or panic.
  • Legal Considerations: Be mindful of legal implications. Avoid making admissions of fault or liability until a full investigation is completed.
  • Empathy and Support: Show empathy towards any inconvenience or concern your customers may experience. Offer support, such as helplines or FAQs, to address their questions.

Ongoing Communication Strategies

Consistent and ongoing communication is key to rebuilding trust after a breach.

  • Regular Updates: Keep customers informed about the ongoing investigation, steps being taken to enhance security, and any changes they need to be aware of.
  • Responsiveness: Be prepared to respond to customer inquiries and concerns promptly. This can be managed through dedicated support teams, social media, or regular updates.
  • Multi-Platform Approach: Utilize various platforms for updates, ensuring consistent messaging across emails, social media, company blog posts, or even webinars.

Learning and Improving from the Experience

A cyber breach, while challenging, can be a catalyst for positive change and improvement.

  • Customer Feedback: Encourage and listen to customer feedback regarding the breach. This can provide valuable insights into their concerns and your response effectiveness.
  • Implementing Changes: Use the insights gained from the breach to improve your cybersecurity practices and customer communication strategies.
  • Communicating Improvements: Let your customers know about the changes and improvements made. This demonstrates a commitment to learning from the incident and to prioritizing their security.

By following these steps, businesses can effectively manage the complex task of communicating with customers post-breach, turning a challenging situation into an opportunity for building stronger relationships and improving practices.


Handling customer communication after a cybersecurity breach is a delicate endeavor that requires tact, transparency, and a commitment to ongoing dialogue. The immediate response sets the stage, but it is the sustained effort in clear communication and continuous improvement that truly helps rebuild trust. By being upfront about the breach, empathetic in response, and diligent in providing updates, businesses can not only navigate the immediate aftermath but also emerge stronger, with improved practices and a deeper connection with their customers.

Even if you’re fortunate enough to not be in the process of communicating a cyber breach to customers, you’ll want to have a plan in place to handle the process efficiently and effectively if you do suffer a breach. Arch Access is the trusted cybersecurity partner to help you implement best-in-class cybersecurity protections before an incident comes up, and we’re here 24/7 to help when things go wrong. Contact us at sdeal@archaccess.com to learn more.

Template Notification Email for Cybersecurity Breach

Advisory Note to Readers

This template is a general guideline for businesses to communicate with customers and stakeholders following a cybersecurity breach. It is crucial to customize this template to reflect the specific details of your incident, your business’s tone, and the nature of your relationship with your customers. Remember to consult with legal and cybersecurity professionals to ensure your communication aligns with legal requirements and accurately represents the situation.

Subject Line: Important Security Notice from [Your Company Name]

Email Body:

Dear [Customer/Stakeholder],

I am writing to inform you of a recent security incident at [Your Company Name].

On [date], our system administrators detected unusual activity in [name of system or technology]. We immediately launched a comprehensive investigation and, unfortunately, discovered that this was a cybersecurity breach. Our primary concern is the security and privacy of the data entrusted to us by our valued customers and partners.

What Happened:
Our initial investigation indicates that [brief description of the breach and the type of data that may have been affected, e.g., unauthorized access to customer email addresses and encrypted passwords].

What We Are Doing:
Upon discovering the breach, we promptly took several steps to secure our systems, including [specific actions taken, e.g., engaging cybersecurity experts, isolating affected systems, updating security protocols]. We are working diligently to understand the full scope of the breach and are cooperating with the appropriate authorities.

What You Can Do:
While we have no evidence that your personal data has been misused, we recommend the following steps as a precaution:

  • Change Your Passwords: Particularly for [any specific accounts related to the breach], we advise you to update your passwords immediately. Choose strong, unique passwords for each account.
  • Monitor Your Accounts: Keep an eye on your account activities, especially if you notice any unusual transactions or changes.
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication: For added security, activate two-factor authentication on your accounts, providing an extra layer of protection.

For additional security, we also advise [insert any other specific recommendations based on the incident, e.g., be wary of suspicious emails or messages, update personal security software].

Ongoing Communication:
We are committed to transparency and will keep you informed as new information becomes available. Regular updates will be provided through [channels of communication, e.g., our website, email].

Contact Us:
Should you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at [contact information]. Our team is ready to assist you.

We deeply regret any inconvenience or concern this incident may cause. Please know that at [Your Company Name], we take the security of your data very seriously and are taking every step necessary to address this situation.


[Your Name]
[Your Position]
[Your Company Name]
[Contact Information]