Being Proactively Prepared for Security Breaches Will Save Your Organization Millions
Data breaches and cyberattacks have become commonplace stories in the media today. It seems like every other week, another high-profile company is being crippled by leaked personal records, financial information, and other types of damaging data.
And when you consider that the average cost of a data breach is $3.62 million, such a breach can be absolutely devastating.
Some companies may think they aren’t big enough to be targeted, but the truth is it’s often the smaller businesses that suffer. In fact, a whopping 43% of all cyberattacks are on small businesses.
For smaller businesses with less resources to help cushion the blow (many end up eventually going under as a result of a breach), setting up a proper line of defense against cyberattacks is absolutely critical.
As such, organizations of all sizes simply must have an incident management process to follow before an event takes place. Dealing with each event “as they come” will leave you unprepared and unable to effectively deal with a breach before it causes irreparable damage.
Below are a few essential steps to follow for a proactive approach to your company’s cybersecurity safety.
Developing a Proper Plan
One important part of dealing with cybersecurity proactively is creating a plan that focuses on specificity. Many businesses today may have a general plan in place but the classification standards within it are vague. Focusing on granular information and what to do in a particular case (malware, phishing, DDoS, SQL injection, etc.) can help speed up response and resolution time and keep the scope of the resolution confined only to areas that are known to be affected.
With this level of specificity comes the ability to develop individualized plans of action (termed playbooks or run books) based on the type of threat. There are, after all, different measures that need to be taken in response to a phishing attempt when compared to a malware attack. By designating specific direction on how to manage and remediate each kind of threat, you can cut down response time and help mitigate the resulting damage.
Developing a playbook for the most common threat to your company is essential, but you shouldn’t stop there – evaluate which threats are likely to become more prevalent in the future as well.
Are you launching a new mobile effort to expand accessibility among your audience? Are you incorporating a quicker and more convenient payment method for your ecommerce space? Does your new product require integration with third-party vendors?
Each of these scenarios requires a detailed look at unfamiliar threats that may be looming on the horizon. And the sooner you can put a playbook in place for each, the better equipped you’ll be to manage an attack should it occur.
Keeping Your Plan Updated
Developing and implementing an attack playbook is only the first step of the process though. A continuous commitment to test, measure, and refine each of these efforts is crucial to ensuring their overall effectiveness.
As such, organizations need to remain diligent about testing incident response measures over time, even if an attack hasn’t occurred. Given the time and resources such testing may require, it’s natural that there is going to be a bit of reluctance here. After all, a full-scale drill for a single threat may require a day or two to complete.
But there’s an enormous difference between tackling a problem you’re familiar with and one you’ve never seen before. The potential scope, severity, and long-term effects of a breach become clearer with each instance a threat occurs. Consequently, threat simulations can give your organization invaluable knowledge about how to most effectively deal with an attack. Regular testing, then, is not just beneficial, it’s absolutely essential.
This testing should be performed with a variety of KPIs in mind. Incident response time, number and types of departments affected, tools utilized, and more should all be closely monitored in order to quantitatively measure the effectiveness of your efforts. These metrics will help to establish a numerical baseline to gauge future iterations and inform key decision-makers of the efficacy of current systems.
In addition to revising your playbooks with the insights gleaned from your testing, you’ll also want to ensure any changes to the structural information of each stays up to date as well. Shifting responsibilities for a role, contact information for third-parties (i.e. ISPs, IR support, etc.), and technical documentation like DNS information, IP ranges, and host names should all be updated as soon as they’re changed.
Having the proper information readily available in the event of an attack can help cut down response time and mitigate the total damage of a breach.
The Proactive Approach: The Smarter Way to Deal with Cybersecurity
With the ever-increasing commonness of cyberattacks in today’s business world, every organization needs to have a detailed and comprehensive strategy in place to deal with a security breach. What’s more, small and medium-sized businesses are especially vulnerable due to more limited resources.
But by developing a meticulous and proper plan, testing it regularly, and updating it over time, you’ll be more prepared to handle any cyber threat quickly, effectively, and proactively.
For more information on creating a comprehensive and effective incident response plan, have a look at some of the resources provided by Incident Response, the leading online incident response community.