There is no need to tell you once again how devastating a data breach can be. After seeing so many prominent companies get burned, the danger should be obvious to anyone who is paying attention. The big problem is that there simply aren’t enough ways to hold cyber-criminals accountable, especially when they strike across international borders. Until law enforcement and/or the government come up with a solution, the rest of us will have to maintain constant vigilance.
If you are the victim of a data breach, a quick response is highly essential. The longer you wait, the more damage can be done. If data is being stolen from you, a delayed response will allow that much more to be stolen. Basically, you don’t want to give the robbers any extra time in the vault. Here are a few tips that will help in that regard.
1. Start With An Incident Response Plan
Our goal here is to avoid all possible delays, and nothing causes a bigger delay than human confusion. If you have a situation where nobody knows what to do, the usual result is stalling and inaction. This is, of course, very good for any cyber-attacker, as it gives them more time to do their thing. This brings us to our first important concept: Preparation is the key.
Even if you haven’t worked out every aspect of the problem, you should go ahead and create a response plan right away. It can always be amended later as new information and experience become available. If you are totally unsure about where to begin, you might start by looking at this general incident response plan from CISA. On that same page, you can also get information about how you can properly report cybercrime to the authorities.
Just for quick reference, most response plans are divided into six phases:
- Preparation: Easily the most important part
- Identification: Understanding the nature of the attack
- Containment: Keeping the damage from becoming any worse
- Eradication: Getting rid of the source of the problem (usually malware removal)
- Recovery: Undoing or mitigating any damage caused by the attack
- Lessons Learned: Applying the lessons of the incident to improve your security situation before the next attack
2. Make Sure That Warnings Are Never Ignored
One little thing about cybersecurity alerts: They aren’t always a real problem. Software of this type can often give false positives, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Every suspicious incident should be checked thoroughly to make sure that a real attack doesn’t slip through the cracks.
Let’s compare it to the action of a guard dog. It might be an inconvenience to walk outside and investigate every time the dog starts barking. Nevertheless, if you are in a situation of real danger, you should check those alarms anyway. It’s far better to waste a little time than to allow an attack to go through unchallenged.
When we talk about “alerts,” we aren’t just talking about little pop-up windows or email notifications. You should also have people monitoring cybersecurity publications on the internet. When new vulnerabilities or exploits are found, word tends to get around quickly. This site is one example of a place where you can get regular alerts of this kind.
3. Conduct Regular Security Audits
There really have been a lot of embarrassing incidents in which companies got hacked and never even knew. If no one bothers to check these things or their results, a cyber-attack can go undetected for months, years, or even forever. For instance, we might mention the Home Depot data breach, which compromised 56 million credit cards overall.
Here’s the significant thing: Home Depot never even knew their payment systems had been hacked. Bank auditors and law enforcement officials notified them of suspicious activity, but this was months after the breach occurred. If the company had done its own cybersecurity auditing from time to time, they wouldn’t have had to wait for outside institutions to do the job for them.
4. Conduct Occasional Response Drills
Although it may seem like overkill, it really is a good idea to do some cybersecurity drills. For the most part, these drills will only involve your IT staff, as most other employees don’t need to worry much about this kind of thing. That being said, you could use some well-crafted (dummy) phishing emails to test your regular employees and see if they are being cautious enough. Still, these drills should focus mainly on the personnel that will actually have to respond to a data breach.
During these drills, there will be a chance to test out your incident response plan and see if it is good enough. There is no shame if it isn’t…after all, that’s why these drills are done in the first place! These drills should not be so much about shaming people for mistakes. The most important thing is to use them as an opportunity for improvement.
It isn’t really that hard to simulate a cybersecurity incident. Any good third-party IT provider should have people that can do “penetration testing,” which is the industry term for these sorts of drills. With no real danger, they can get someone to penetrate the outer defenses and see how quickly people respond.
Although this list is not complete, these four measures can really help your cyber-incident response time. As we said before, these problems only get worse with time. Besides that, a poor response will only embolden the attackers and invite more potential breaches in the future.
Of course, skillfully managed IT support services can do a lot to help in this department. If you are wondering: “Who are the best managed IT providers near me?”, then we have the answer. PCH Technologies is available at (856) 754-7500, and there are good reasons for our leading role in the industry. We hope to hear from you soon.