Cybersecurity Incident Response in the Digital Age
The wide development and integration of technological tools and solutions have provided numerous benefits for both individual users and organizations. As technological capacities continuously evolve, the threat landscape of organizations evolves as well with cybercriminals deriving new attack strategies. Witnessing the technological dependence that the global society has been undergoing, malicious entities have sought to take advantage of poorly maintained systems and networks, which has placed organizations under constant threat from such risks.
The recent decade was characterized by a significant increase in the number of reported cybersecurity incidents, with organizations suffering from the evolving threat landscape. These developments stressed the importance for organizations to develop incident response capabilities that would enable them to appropriately deal with security risks and incidents, and ensure the proper continuation of business operations. Considering the vast dependence on IT and cloud solutions from businesses, it has become imperative that organizations develop internal capabilities that would enable them to appropriately react to potential security incidents and ensure the preservation of their digital assets.
The high levels of connectivity that modern technology facilitates for organizations, apart from the exemplified benefits, also increase the risks and threats associated with the systems and networks that organizations must perform their operations. The evolution of attack strategies such as advanced malware and social engineering has forced businesses to prioritize cybersecurity through all levels of the organization regardless of the tech-savviness of the staff. Considering the recent trend of remote working and commuting, the lines between leisure time and work become blurred, where the personnel is more likely to utilize the same devices for both leisure time and work.
Over the past decade, the trends of digitalization and automation have elevated cybersecurity into a critical aspect for organizations due to the heavy investments that were committed. In efforts to meet the current challenges of supporting remote working operations, businesses have been integrating technologies such as platforms for web conferencing, virtual private networks, and intranet portals that enable the personnel to operate behind a firewall that secures the digital resources. Although organizations have long been providing guidelines and policies that inform the personnel about the safe practices of cybersecurity and cyber hygiene, these attempts are still insufficient in ensuring the security of the digital assets of organizations.
To develop a secure operating environment, organizations must develop a proactive approach that focuses on developing mitigation and response strategies that would enable the organization in preparing for the likelihood of incidents. These developed strategies and policies can include guidelines for creating safe passwords, identifying scams, and providing a general outline of how the personnel should access the internet in their working environment. Business organizations must ensure that they prevent their personnel from being the weak link in the system, and a vulnerable prey for cybercriminals.
The Importance of Incident Response Planning
At the forefront of digital defenses for organizations stand the incident response teams which are tasked with the responsibility of mitigating damages and ensuring that services resume. Incidents are not limited to only one organization or one particular industry, the dynamics of the modern age have increased the complexity at which organizations deal with various types of incidents. Therefore, organizations that can develop a proper Incident Response Plan place themselves in a much more secure position. Incident Response Plans have become a necessity for businesses in the modern environment.
The significant increase in the number of cyber-attacks and data breaches has emphasized the need for a thoroughly developed cybersecurity strategy, with an Incident Response Plan at its core that will mitigate any undesired scenario for organizations. Incidents are a common occurrence in the operational environment where their impact might be minimal or significant. Nonetheless, organizations need to prepare their approach beforehand to avoid disrupting the operational process.
An Incident Response Plan refers to a set of tools, instructions, and mechanisms that enable an organization’s personnel to detect, react, and recover from any system or network incidents. The purpose of designing an Incident Response Plan is to help an organization appropriately respond to any potential incident that may affect the internal or external environment of the organization. The development and maintenance of an Incident Response Plan require regular updates as well as training that will enhance the security of the digital assets of an organization, the steps of an IRP are:
- Preparation: the organization should underline and review the security policy that informs the IRP, perform risk assessment, and prioritize security issues.
- Identification: The identification step helps to find out if the organization has suffered a data breach or not, collecting additional evidence to identify the type and severity of the incident.
- Containment: The containment process can involve short-term containment or long-term containment, where the organization can isolate a segment of the network that is identified as under attack, or in the long-term containment where the organization rebuilds clean systems.
- Eradication: The eradication process is establishing a process in order to restore all the systems that have been affected by the incident. The proposed method is to initially start reimaging the systems involved in the incident and get rid of any traces of the incident.
- Recovery: In this process, the organization should determine how to bring back all the systems into their fully functioning state after verifying that they are incident-free.
- Post-Incident Handling: This process should have the purpose of completing the documentation that could not be completed at the response process and should further be investigated in order to identify the full scope of the occurred incident.
Failure to prepare for the likelihood of incidents is a recipe for disaster for any organization regardless of its size or operating industry. The value that organizations create from their business model which they aim to transfer to their partners and customers can be severely damaged by cybersecurity incidents. Considering all the attempts made by several institutions and governments to regulate the protection and preservation of information security, it is the responsibility of the organization to ensure that the best measures are undertaken for preserving the security of customer and partner data, as well as business processes and operations.