Updated: Dec 6, 2022
In Part 1 of this data protection and security series, we reviewed the most common types of cybersecurity attacks – Phishing, Smishing, and Vishing. Continuing our overview in Part 2, we addressed two more strategies for cyberattack – Malware and Ransomware, and in Part 3, we shared tips on Password Use and Safety for Emails. In this final article of the series, we will share actions you can take to Recover from a Security Breach.
Every year, we hear of companies large and small that have been hacked, resulting in thousands, more often millions, of their consumer records exposed to cybercriminals. These incidents have become so commonplace that nearly every person or business has been directly victimized by a security attack, or knows someone who has. There are many reasons why security breaches occur. Sometimes data protection and security protocols are lacking and vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited, but most often, the reasons are based on premeditated criminal intent.
Motivations for Hacking
• Accidental exposure. When organizations have neglected to put protective measures in place, their systems become vulnerable to bad actors and private information can be inadvertently or intentionally exposed.
• Personal gain or grudge. Sometimes an employee with administrative access to the backend of a corporate system decides to go rogue and infiltrate the system. Whether a disgruntled employee with an axe to grind, one motivated by greed and monetary gain, or an unrelated external bad actor simply chasing the intellectual high of successfully gaming a system, insider as well as outsider threats can play a detrimental role in masterminding and executing a security breach.
• Political intrigue. Some hacking attempts are motivated by political activists seeking to bring the opposing side down by breaching security to expose information to the public or use against politicians and policymakers for political gain.
• Theft of money or intellectual property. The main motivation behind most security breaches, however, is to gain access to things of financial value – money in bank or investment accounts, access to lines of credit, and theft of intellectual property or other proprietary or confidential information with great monetary value.
Security breach mitigation is key to ensuring that your systems remain as safe as possible. The first step is to conduct an assessment and then design and implement a security breach prevention and recovery plan – whether on the small scale of your personal computer or a corporate wide computer network.
Immediate Implementation Plan
• Conduct a systematic and thorough inventory of assets – know what is most valuable on your system and what the corporate and legal risks would be if that information were breached.
• Develop a clearly defined set of compliance requirements and a sequential response and recovery plan to immediately initiate in case of breach. This plan should include standard operating procedures and policies addressing such issues as use of external devices, unauthorized access, scheduled penetration testing, keeping of access and incident logs, etc.
• Conduct insider threat training for all of your staff on a not less than annual basis.
Those are the steps you can take right now to mitigate the occurrence of a security breach. But if the breach has already happened, what do you do next?
Execute Your Security Breach Recovery Plan
Once you have recognized that a breach has occurred, conduct an immediate damage assessment to determine your plan of action, including forensic analysis to determine the breach entry point(s) and uncover any remaining vulnerabilities. Call in a consultant or team of experts if necessary to help you determine the extent of the damage. Remove and reset all previous system access privileges so that the former entry points are no longer available. You may need to have malware and compromised files physically removed upon completion of your investigation. Notify stakeholders and law enforcement authorities as soon as possible. Keep in mind that although timely notification to those affected by the breach may arouse anger or frustration, ultimately being forthcoming about the situation will be appreciated and may well serve to protect your corporate reputation for transparency and honesty. Catalog all corrective actions taken and lessons learned to ensure operating procedures are working properly going forward and modify your breach recovery plan to cover any new contingencies discovered. Finally, remain vigilant and never take for granted that your system is safe.
Millions of dollars are lost to data breaches annually, and it can take nearly a year from first detection to recovery from a data breach. A massive breach will not be cleared up with a quick fix. In addition to the financial impact of a breach, trust in your organization once hacked may be irreparably damaged. Advance preparation and preventative maintenance are essential for the success of any breach mitigation plan.
Gold Comet’s Secure Messaging Solution was designed to be a “hacker’s worst nightmare.” The objective was to build an ultra-secure system that would pass the most rigorous penetration testing to provide our customers with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your intellectual property, proprietary information, and personal files are protected from intrusion and damaging misuse. To learn more about Gold Comet’s products and services, click here.