Should you apologize if your business computers/network get an email virus that start sending out emails to all your clients? (That’s called zombie computers.)
Or what if your website gets hacked and all user email information is compromised?
You want to figure out how this happened in the first place so it will not occur again. Lack of IT staff, knowledge or employee training? Not keeping virus software updated and following best practices is usually the culprit.
The most common reason that websites get hacked is not not keeping up with website and security updates. Being a WordPress Consultant, I can speak from experience that a lot of folks do not keep their sites up to date. Then, they are surprised when they get hacked. Three this week alone.
You need to determine the source of the problem and put proper practices and policies in place so you can be confident this will not happen again. This information will need to be included in your notice about the situation. Doing so will reflect you understand what happened and are better positioned to avoid future occurrences.
Crafting Your Apology
Your apology email will not include making excuses. You need to own this.
Send out a simple email apology humbly stating you are sorry for any inconvenience caused. Then note the specific proper practices that are now in place to prevent this from happening again.
You also need to be upfront about what if any of your customer’s information was compromised. And include specifics. The more detail the better to begin the confidence rebuilding process.
Using a service provider like MailChimp that ensures clean mails and delivery is probably a good idea for your notice. If you were infected for any length of time your emails may otherwise be blocked or blacklisted. You can check your website’s status here.
Example Apology Email
Here’s an example to start with and customize to your situation.
Today I discovered that my website (or my PC) had been hacked and that user’s accounts (or contacts) may have been exposed.
a) I neglected to keep my site up to date which allowed hackers to compromise the older code.
b) I didn’t keep my computer’s virus software updated and that allowed access to my address book and contact emails to be accessed.
In light of this, I have (note what you have corrected — in detail)…
My sincere and humble apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. I am confident I have the procedures in place to prevent this from happening again.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.
If you do eCommerce, and actual payment information was compromised, you will want to seek out an attorney for advice. You need to investigate what is the best way to proceed in light of customer credit card or sensitive information being exposed.
Most Contacts are Protected
Most folks have good virus protection and your situation may not be an issue for them. They may not even notice an infected email as it will be quarantined on the download.
Regardless, you cannot risk that they did not notice. Better to admit what happened and reflect the tenacity to resolve the situation and prevent it from happening again in the future. This can actually be a trust building experience if handled properly.
Offer all your contacts a sincere and humble apology only after you know for a fact that the issue is resolved. Then, make sure you use the built-in update scheduler to ensure that your computer(s) is scanned daily and updated with the latest new virus data to know what to protect you from.
And if you are unable to keep your website updated — partner with someone who can take care of that for you. You’ll be glad you did.
Once you go through a situation like this, keeping your website secured, or your system virus software up to date, seems like a no-brainer, right?