Responding to a Cybersecurity Event — Adopting an Effective Incident Response Strategy Against Cyber Attacks

Key Points From the Article:

  • Any business can be a victim of cyber attacks regardless of size or security measures.
  • To keep your business prepared, your need an incident response plan to greenlight the procedures for mitigating attacks.
  • While mitigation approaches vary with the nature of the attack, some steps apply to nearly all types of attacks.

Amid the deluge of cyber theft and ransomware attacks, most business owners convince themselves they’re too small a target. They adopt firewalls and restoration plans that don’t protect their cyber assets sufficiently, which makes them easy prey.

Other times, a business can take all the security measures but still be vulnerable to attack because cybercriminals actively look for loopholes to launch an attack.

Even if you think your business cannot be a target or you’ve developed a stronger cybersecurity posture, you should be ready to respond when an attack happens.

How you respond will hugely depend on the nature and extent of the attack. However, here’s a five-step process you can adopt for any compromise.

Responding To A Cybersecurity Event

Step #1: Retrieve The Incident Response Plan

When you receive a ransom note on your computer or your employee confesses they’re a victim of email phishing, your initial response is to contact your IT team.

Your IT team should have an incident response plan that greenlights how you respond to a security breach. The incident response plan shows:

  • Roles and responsibilities that arise from incident response
  • Procedures to follow in each phase of the incident response
  • The communication protocol — with the rest of the organization, external stakeholders, and within the response team
  • How to learn from the attack and improve your business’ security approach

The incident response plan is a roadmap to what you should do when under attack. If your business has problems developing an incident response plan, can help you build one.

Step #2: Contain the Damage

After identifying a breach, your immediate goal is to contain the incident and prevent further damage.

Your IT team can execute actions that involve:

  • Short-term containment: The action can be as simple as isolating the network segment under attack or completely shutting down servers that have been compromised and are redirecting traffic to backup servers.
  • Long-term containment: Your IT team can apply temporary fixes that allow your system to continue operating while rebuilding a clean system and preparing to bring them online in recovery.

Your team should first check your business server, shut down all systems and computers, and take everything offline. Then, block the traffic in and out of the firewall to stop the communication between the hacker and the internet.

When containing the damage, your IT partner should:

  • Update and patch your system to seal the loophole that the attacker leveraged
  • Change all user and admin credential
  • Review your remote access protocols
  • Strengthen your password

While the initial instinct when under attack would be to wipe everything securely, deletion will hurt in the long run because it’ll destroy valuable evidence that you need to determine the root cause of the attack.

Step #3: Assess the Attack

After containing the attack, establish what happened. Your IT team should establish ground zero — finding out where the infection started. has a security toolbox to help determine where the compromise first happened. Our team of experts evaluates one system at a time until we establish the root cause of the attack on your business. After determining the root of the attack, we’ll establish:

  • How far the attack has spread
  • The infection time to allow our experts to restore your system to a time before the infection

We’ll also check for signs of unauthorized data transfer from your system. Sometimes, an attacker won’t tell you they’ve stolen your data. We’ll help you review your firewall logs to check for malicious outbound activities.

Step #4: Clean Up Your Network

Depending on the extent of the compromise, cleaning up a network might be significant. While your IT team can just clean viruses from your system, you might need to rebuild your entire system from scratch. After all, when hackers have accessed your system for a long period, they might have executed other malicious activities that risk your network.

You might need to clean your system and reload your server with uncompromised backups. After reloading your server, you can proceed to do the same with your system and workstations.

Step #5: Create Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

Your IT team must identify the root cause of the attack to prevent future attacks. For instance:

  • If the entry point for the attack was a weak authentification mechanism, your business should replace it with strong authentication
  • If the attacker exploited a vulnerability to enter your system, your IT professionals should patch it immediately
  • If your business underwent a ransomware attack, you should establish the attack vector — was it email phishing, social engineering, unpatched software, or exposed RDP access

Our cybersecurity experts will execute a root cause analysis to get the details on how the attack happened, why it was successful, and how to prevent it from re-happening.

For example, our team might establish that one of your employees fell for email phishing resulting in a ransomware attack. We can recommend that your business adopt cyber training and active network monitoring to lower the risk of exfiltration in the future.

Does Your Company Have a Full Grasp Their Role in Addressing Security Breach

While the above five are the main step a business can take to respond to a cybersecurity event, it is by no means a complete list. There are other activities involved in responding to data security breaches.

For example, you might need to :

  • Hire a PR firm to help you maintain a good public image after the attack.
  • Communicate with the FBI about the attack.
  • Limit access to the most valuable data in your business.
  • Ensure third-party vendors comply with your business security measure.

Your tech partner must fully grasp their role in addressing security breaches.

Atlantic-IT.Net Will Answer All Your Questions About Your Response Plan

Our team of experts articulates all the steps your business should take to address today’s threat landscape. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Metro DC, and Metro Atlanta with cybersecurity needs. We can help you too.

Contact us today if you’ve any questions about your business’ incident response plan.

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