Should you apologize if your business computers/network get an email virus that starts 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 have no choice. Own it.
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 keeping up with website and security updates. Being a WordPress Consultant, I can speak from experience that many folks do not keep their sites updated. 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.
If you were infected for any length of time, your emails might be blocked or blacklisted. You can check your website’s status here. Bookmark this link and check your domain every once in a while to make sure you are in good standing.
Example Apology Email
Here’s an example to start with that you can customize to your situation. I include examples of website and PC hacking for you to build upon.
Today I discovered that my website (or my PC) has been hacked and that user’s accounts (or my contacts) may have been exposed.
if website => I neglected to keep my site up to date which allowed hackers to compromise the older code.
if PC => I didn’t keep my computer’s virus software updated and that allowed access to my address book and contact emails to be accessed. I have updated my subscription and future updates will automatically be applied.
In light of this, I have (note what you have corrected — in detail)…
if website => I have since reviewed and updated everything and have engaged a professional service to monitor this for me.
if PC => I have updated my subscription and future updates will automatically be applied.
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.
Alternate Contact Info
If you do eCommerce and actual payment information is compromised, seek an attorney for advice. An attorney can direct you on the best way to proceed regarding customer credit cards or sensitive information being exposed.
Most Contacts are Protected
Most onliners have virus protection in place, 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. Or they may be infected and not know it yet.
You cannot risk that they did not notice. It is better to admit what happened and reflect the tenacity to resolve the situation and prevent it from happening again. Doing so can be a trust-building experience if handled correctly.
The last thing you want to happen is your business contact discovering the situation first. This will cause irreparable trust in your business.
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 scan your computer(s) daily and updated it 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. Worth every penny.
Mark my words, 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?