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How to Respond Following a Cyber Security Breach

Cybercrime is an ever-changing landscape that is getting more and more sophisticated, wreaking havoc on business owners across the globe. As more and more companies suffer breaches and ransomware attacks that leak private and corporate information to the public, it’s now more crucial than ever to have a defence strategy in place. But what happens if you’re a victim of these crimes and you don’t yet have a game plan? If this happens, it’s important to work quickly as your next moves are critical to avoid catastrophic damage.

When handling the aftermath of a cyberattack, implementing the following six phases will help you move forward and minimize impact.

Phase I: Recognizing and Stopping the Attack

The first step in the face of crisis is to acknowledge the attack and contain the breach to help minimize damage. This means cutting off access to the hacker by isolating the systems they have compromised. If you experienced an internal leak, you would need to revoke access to the user account that was used. It may be necessary to do a full system shutdown or terminate Internet connectivity for a period of time.

Once you have contained the threat, the next step is to eliminate it so that the recovery process can begin.

Phase II: Assess the Severity of the Breach and Determine the Source

Whether it’s client information or information regarding business dealing or legal matters, having this kind of data leaked to the public could impact not only your business’ reputation, but your clients’ and partner companies’ as well.

Once the attack has ended, determine what data was stolen and what kind of impact it would have if this information were to be leaked.

After you have assessed the damage, it’s time to turn your attention towards identifying the source of the data breach to help prevent the same kind of breach from happening again.

Start by scanning your computer systems to find out if an employee opened a phishing email or clicked on a link that could have resulted in the breach.

Also look at any internal communications to see if an employee had exposed the data.

While investigating the breach, you will need to identify which systems had been compromised and if any data was at risk of being compromised.

At this point, you should have an understanding of what data was potentially accessed and what the risk of exposure is. This is where a call to legal counsel should be considered, and depending on the severity, to your cyber and liability insurance broker as well.  BNased on their recommendations, you should start notifying any and all parties that could have been affected.

Once you have pinpointed the source of the breach, put an end to the attack, and notify those who have been affected so you can start working towards repairing the damage.

Phase III: Repairing the Damage and Restoring Assets

Phase three is a critical part of the recovery process as it involves repairing the damage caused by the data breach and restoring assets.

You can work to restore assets that were compromised in a number of ways. In some cases, you may be able to either replace or wipe the data storage drives of the IT assets that were affected and download any data that was lost from a backup.

You may also be able to activate entire cloud-based replicas of your network environment. This option will help to restore your business’ network and continue regular business operations as you continue to investigate the security breach.

Your method for restoring assets should be laid out in a business continuity or disaster recovery plan if you have one in place.

Phase IV: Understanding Your Ethical Obligations as A Company

Along with repairing the damaged caused by a cyberattack, you will also have to work to regain employee and client trust.

The best way to regain trust is to be open and honest about the attack and be clear about the cause.

Simply put, complete transparency is crucial during this time.

It’s important to show employees and clients that you have learned from this experience and are working towards making serious changes and improvements internally to make sure another breach does not re-occur.

Therefore, data security should be deeply ingrained in your company culture. This starts with educating your staff about the importance of data protection and risks of a breach. All employees should undergo training regarding data threats and how to prevent and deal with them if they should occur. Additionally, all current security protocols should be evaluated and strengthened.

Phase V: Communication

Proper communication is critical after a breach to ensure that it is reported properly and that the correct information is being spread. Therefore, formal communication protocols after a breach should be in place ahead of time.

Internal communications between departments, along with the CEO and CMO, are essential to ensure the right tone is used and information is being communicated properly.

So, rather than focussing solely on communicating with your IT department, it’s important to keep your marketing team in the loop as well.

Phase VI: Create a Response Plan and Prepare for a Security Breach

every organization is at risk of a data breach. Therefore, it is critical that you prepare for this and have a plan in place to better handle one and ensure your business remains operational during the aftermath – This is where a disaster recovery plan comes in.

Think of a disaster recovery plan as your business’ official game plan following an attack that will help you maintain regular business operations and minimize loss.

Included in a disaster recovery plan should be:

Here are some additional tips for preparing for another potential attack and developing a response plan.

Identify Your Assets

You will not be able to properly protect your network until you actually know what is there that needs protecting.

Carrying out an audit of your IT assets will help you to account for all of the resources that need protection – and may need to be replicated – as part of your recovery plan.

Create an Incident Response Team

While having a plan in place is crucial, having people on board that have the skills and experience to help carry out this plan is just as important.

Whether it’s made up of internal IT staff or from a third-party cybersecurity staffing provider, having designated roles and an incident response team will help ensure that your response plan is executed smoothly when it is needed.

Add an Intrusion Detection System

Being able to detect a breach early on is essential for ensuring you are able to respond quickly, and efficiently, minimizing damage and making the recovery process easier.

An intrusion detection system will help you identify when a security breach takes place, allowing for quicker response times.

Create an Incident Response Plan

When a data breach or cyberattack occurs, it’s important to have laid out who will be responsible for doing what.

An incident response plan lays out the roles and responsibilities for your response team in the event of a breach to help them respond appropriately and more quickly.

Back Up Your Data

Having external backups of all your company data is one of the most critical components of any disaster recovery plan.

Backing up all your data on a remote server allows you to regain access to your data by simply formatting your local drives and downloading the data you need from the backup in the event of a breach or other type of disaster.

Frequent Penetration Testing

A penetration test simulates a cyberattack against your computer system and allows you to identify vulnerabilities in your system’s defences that could be taken advantage of by hackers.

Carrying out frequent penetration tests is incredibly important as it allows you to be proactive and identify weak spots and fix them before a breach even occurs.

When developing a disaster recovery plan for your business, turn to the experts at IDS Systems to help ensure your data is always protected in the event of a cyberattack or data breach.

We have been serving customers in the IT field for over 25 years, providing clients with cost-effective IT plans that work. For more information, contact IDS Systems today.