What You Should Know About Responding To A Cybersecurity Event

Security compromises are a growing threat to organizations of all sizes. Statistics show that over 90 percent of data breaches in 2021 resulted from a cyberattack, and the trend continues to grow at an alarming rate.

What You Should Know About Responding To A Cybersecurity Event

Security compromises are a growing threat to organizations of all sizes. Statistics show that over 90 percent of data breaches in 2021 resulted from a cyberattack, and the trend continues to grow at an alarming rate. Nearly every type of cyberattack has increased over the past few years, and the start of 2022 is no different.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2021 Data Breach Report, there were 1,862 data breaches in 2021 compared to the previous year’s 1,108, an increase of over 68 percent. Additionally, while fewer data breaches are usually reported in the first quarter of any year, the number of security breaches in the first quarter of 2022 rose by over 14 percent.

Ransomware, cryptojacking, vulnerability exploitation, phishing, and other attacks will continue to be a threat for organizations of all sizes in 2022, with no sign of slowing anytime soon. As organizations of all sizes struggle to keep their networks and data secure, it is vital to have security measures to limit the possible damage they may cause and have a plan to respond to a cybersecurity event.

Even with cybersecurity measures in place, your organization can still become a victim, making an incident response plan critical to limiting your losses. With government officials and security experts warning organizations of all sizes and types to prepare for an attack, it’s imperative to know what to do when an attack occurs.

What is an Incident Response Plan?

An incident response plan is an administrative process that enables your organization to respond to an attack effectively and timely to limit any potential damage. The process includes identifying the attack, understanding its severity, prioritizing it, investigating and mitigating the attack, restoring your operations, and taking actions to ensure your organization won’t fall victim to the same attack again.

Effectively responding to a security breach involves following a set of documented procedures that detail the steps you should take for each phase of incident response. In addition, it should include guidelines for roles and responsibilities, communication plans, and standardized response protocols. Your response to a cybersecurity event will vary depending on the type of security compromise. For instance, responding to a ransomware attack on your network will differ from responding to an email breach.

Retrieve Your Incident Response Plan

Regardless of the type of security breach, your first step to resolving the issue is to contact your IT service provider. Whether a ransom note suddenly appears on your screen or an employee inadvertently opens a phishing email, it’s critical to begin the response process immediately.

In some cases, your cybersecurity provider may be the first to detect a threat, but in any case, they will have a detailed and structured process to respond to and document the incident. Your response time is critical to protecting your network and data, so always record and report everything.

Shut Down and Protect Your IT Assets

A cyberattack typically starts small, and if action is not taken, it can quickly affect your entire network, paralyzing your organization. To stop the spread and limit the damage, shut down your systems and turn off all your machines. In most cases, this means shutting down the servers, including your backup server, containing your data and ensuring that all systems and computers are offline. Your cybersecurity team will also block inbound and outbound firewall traffic to halt communication between the hacker and the internet.

Investigate the Cybersecurity Event

Once your system is shut down and offline, the next step is to determine what happened. Your cybersecurity team will determine where the attack began and how the breach occurred. It can take time to determine where and how a security breach occurred, and often the network will need to be evaluated one system at a time.

After identifying the point of attack, your security team will determine:

  • How far the infection could spread and what other systems may have been exposed or damaged.
  • The time that the attack occurred to enable your team to restore your systems to a point before the attack took place.
  • Even if the hackers don’t say they stole your data, your security team will determine if data was exfiltrated by checking firewall logs for suspicious outbound activity.

Clean Up Your Network

If your organization has experienced a significant cybersecurity event, cleaning up your network can be a substantial task. Even after a virus is removed, your systems need to be rebuilt from scratch. In addition, depending on the amount of time the hackers had access, they may have conducted other malicious activity that places your network at additional risk.  Your cybersecurity team will wipe clean and reload your servers, followed by your systems and workstations using uncompromised backups.

Create a Root Cause Investigation

A root cause investigation by your cybersecurity team will provide a detailed analysis of what happened and why it happened. Armed with this information, your team can develop the safeguards necessary to ensure that the same type of security breach won’t happen in the future.

For instance, your root cause investigation may show data exfiltration occurred because a team member fell for a phishing link. In that case, your team may recommend further employee training and security information and event management (SIEM) technology that supports threat detection and compliance to limit the risk of exfiltration in the future.

Does Your Organization Know How to Respond to a Security Breach?

While the above steps are vital to respond to a cybersecurity event, every attack is unique, and additional steps may be required to restore your organization’s systems fully. For example, depending on the type of compromised data and the extent of the breach, you may need support to communicate with the FBI. Additionally, you may need to take steps to limit the damage caused to your reputation due to the cybersecurity event.

Responding to a cybersecurity event involves several steps, and your cybersecurity team needs to have a firm grasp of its role in addressing a compromise. At Centerpoint IT, our team of cybersecurity experts can provide you with the tools you need to respond to any security breach. To learn more about how we can help you effectively respond to a cybersecurity event, contact us today and schedule a no-obligation consultation with our team of security experts.