The Keys to Cyberattack Response

Responding to Breaches and Defending Your Infrastructure

In an era where cyber threats continue to escalate in sophistication and frequency, businesses must be prepared to respond swiftly and effectively when faced with a security breach. Given the rise in breaches, getting attacked is more about “when” than “if.” So, given the potential damage a cyberattack can cause your business, how can you best protect yourself?

Your first line of defense, notes Dan Roberts, Security Technician at Cooperative Systems, is a security tech stack that complements your infrastructure.

“The more tools you have, the better, as long as you’re balancing security and performance,” he says. “Part of that solution includes monitoring, which is the primary way to detect threats before they get into your system. Two other core keys to effectively responding to and mitigating breaches are employee education and, perhaps most important, a comprehensive incident response plan that covers every
phase of an incident, from initial infection to resolution.”

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail

“An incident response plan takes into account several variables,” explains Roberts. “What needs to be protected and why? Who is responsible for executing the plan, whether it’s reaching out to your cyber liability insurance provider, communicating with employees and vendors, or any other function.”

The plan should be as comprehensive as possible — clearly explaining steps and responsibilities — thoroughly documented, and shared with every member of the team who has a role in its execution.

When developing an incident response plan, there are core areas to consider. Those include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Preparation and Planning: Establish a comprehensive incident response team and define their roles and responsibilities. Identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities and develop strategies to mitigate them. Determine the escalation process, communication channels, and the tools and technologies required for incident response.
  • Detection and Reporting: Implement robust monitoring systems and intrusion detection mechanisms to identify potential security breaches promptly. Define clear guidelines on how to report security incidents within the organization. Encourage employees to report any suspicious activities promptly to facilitate a quick response.
  • Response and Containment: Define a step-by-step process for responding to security incidents effectively. This should include isolating affected systems, limiting the scope of the breach, and preventing further damage. Assign specific tasks to team members, such as securing evidence, gathering information, and coordinating with relevant stakeholders.
  • Investigation and Analysis: Conduct a thorough investigation to determine the root cause of the security breach. Identify the extent of the damage, compromised systems or data, and any potential vulnerabilities that were exploited. Analyze the incident to understand how it occurred and identify any patterns or trends that could help prevent future breaches.
  • Communication and Notification: Develop a communication plan to ensure all relevant stakeholders are promptly informed about the incident. This includes internal teams, executive management, legal counsel, and, if necessary, law enforcement agencies. Prepare templates and guidelines for external communications to maintain consistency and ensure the provision of accurate information.
  • Recovery and Lessons Learned: Define strategies and procedures for recovering from a security breach. This involves restoring affected systems, verifying their integrity, and implementing additional security measures to prevent future incidents. Conduct a thorough post-incident analysis to identify lessons learned and update the incident response plan accordingly.

“One more caveat,” states Roberts. “Your plan needs to have roles clearly delineated, and it has to be documented and disseminated to every person who has responsibility for its execution. The management team might know what the plan is, but if it’s not widely distributed, it can be confusing. You don’t want to be deciding who does what should an incident occur. There’s already enough chaos.” Remember, an incident response plan should be regularly reviewed, tested, and updated to align with evolving threats and business requirements. It’s crucial to involve key stakeholders, including IT, legal, and executive teams, to ensure a comprehensive and effective response to security breaches.

Don’t Go It Alone

If you’re not sure where to start in terms of developing a plan, we can help. “We work with our clients to help create incident response plans,” says Roberts. “We understand the steps you need to take, how to assign responsibilities, and, most importantly, how these incidents can unfold. Our experience helps us create efficient, comprehensive plans, reducing downtime and helping you get back into operation
as quickly as possible.”

For more information about our enhanced cybersecurity offerings, including Backup & Disaster Recovery (BDR), visit our website.

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