When it comes to cyber security incident management, there are four main stages to consider. These include preparation, detection, containment, and recovery. As part of preparing your business for potential cyber security threats you must thoroughly understand your risk profile. It’s essential that you are aware of what data your organisation holds, where it is stored, and who has access to it.
Prepare: Incident Response Plan
Cyber Security planning should always include an incident response plan. Understanding your risks and the potential effects of an incident before they happen keeps you one step ahead in the recovery process. Identifying key personnel and a communications procedure for incident reporting and action will ensure that when it happens, the standard operating procedure is smooth and uncomplicated. Ideally, an incident response team would conduct regular drills and training to ensure procedures work, are current and everyone involved is aware of their roles and responsibilities.
How do you know if an incident has occurred? Detection requires an efficient monitoring system that can detect suspicious activity on your network in real-time. Using a state-of-the-art SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) that monitors and detects activity can help, but in some cases, threat actors can gain access without setting any alarms off, such as gaining admin rights and exploring the system for some time without causing any obvious issues. You should have policies in place that will help you quickly identify any potential threats or incidents before they become a major problem – such as user profiling of ‘normal activity’ with logging and alert systems, scans for unauthorised hardware and software, and the higher monitoring of privileged accounts.
Respond/Contain the Cyber Incident
Once an incident has been detected, the next step is to contain it; this means preventing the attack from spreading further or gaining access to other parts of your network. To do this effectively, you need to understand the source of the attack so that you can block access points or quarantine affected systems. If it is sensitive or financial information, removing the network from connectivity immediately and utilising a backup at a cold or hot site is preferred, which is why regular backups are recommended for business continuity.
After containing the attack, your priority should be eradicating it completely from your network by removing any malicious files or code left behind by the attackers. Eradication includes patching any vulnerabilities that were exploited during the attack so they cannot be used again in future attempts.
Finally, once the incident has been completely eradicated from your network, recovery efforts should begin immediately as this will help ensure minimal disruption and financial losses due to downtime or data leakage from the attack. At this stage, all affected systems should be restored with clean backups and have their security measures updated accordingly with new patches and protocols to prevent similar incidents in future attacks. Organisations should also implement measures such as encryption or two-factor authentication for added protection against future attacks and staff training in phishing awareness as well as elements of physical security. Conducting a Post Incident Review and ensuring the process has been recorded in a register or documentation is recommended to ensure all the procedures you have in place worked, or if not, why not.
Cyber security incidents are inevitable but having a clear plan for managing them can help minimise disruption and damage caused by these events. Organisations need to be aware of their obligations when it comes to cyber security and must implement robust strategies for both incident management and business recovery if they want to remain competitive in today’s digital landscape and avoid potential legal action. By understanding each stage of cyber security incident management—from detection through containment and ultimately eradication—organisations can better protect themselves against potential threats while ensuring minimal disruption occurs following an attack. Taking proactive steps now can make all the difference when it comes time to handle an unexpected event down the road.
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