Cyber incidents are inevitable. In the digital age, cybercrime has had and will continue to have disastrous repercussions on businesses. With each passing year, cybercrime rises steadily, making it impossible to overstate the significance of cybersecurity in the modern world. Thankfully, businesses are finally recognizing this, and rightly so. Cyber incidents are perpetually in the news, with businesses regularly falling victim to data breaches, ransomware, social engineering/phishing, and a slew of other attacks. Certainly, no company wants any such attack to occur and risk the consequential fallout, but it would be wise to treat it as an inevitability.
It is, of course, always preferable to protect against and reduce any potential threat or attack and to have the proper cybersecurity controls in place. Controls such as antivirus software, firewalls, redundancy mechanisms, and an Intrusion Detection System (IDS), to name a few, are not only commonplace for any company but are also heavily depended on.
Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world, and the reality is that nothing is ever completely secure all the time. What happens when the antivirus software fails to detect and block a virus? What happens when an attacker is able to bypass the firewall? Are you prepared? Would you be able to tell that you were compromised? Can you ultimately recover?
If you cannot confidently answer these questions, then chances are you need an Incident Response Plan because the occurrence of an incident isn’t a matter of “If” but “When”.
Consequences of not having an Incident Response Plan
The necessity of a Cyber Incident Response Plan is often overlooked or treated as an afterthought. Many businesses believe that their existing cybersecurity measures alone are sufficient, or worse, infallible. While a cybersecurity strategy focuses on detection and prevention, an incident response plan is crucial in dealing with the aftermath of a cyberattack. Even a seemingly innocuous cyberattack can have severe repercussions if not handled quickly and correctly.
Zero-day attacks are particularly devastating due to their unpredictability. They exploit vulnerabilities which have not been previously discovered or disclosed, and there is typically no patch or fix available to protect against them. Zero-day attacks can potentially go undetected for an extended period, allowing the attackers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information, steal data, and disrupt operations. This disruption presents a critical risk which requires immediate attention and action. Such an incident has the potential to completely shut down networks, servers, and other equipment, crippling a company's whole infrastructure. This can result in a complete halt of business operations, leading to severe consequences such as:
Data Loss – Most companies hold confidential data. Loss of data risks compromising the privacy of not just the data of the entire company and its employees but also customer data. This data in the hands of a threat actor can be used against the company in further attacks or held for ransom.
Financial Loss – A company’s revenue is directly at stake during an incident. The more time spent dealing with the incident, the more revenue is lost. A comprehensive and regularly updated incident response plan can protect against a loss of revenue. According to a 2022 report by IBM, organizations that have an incident response (IR) team and regularly test their IR plan saved, on average, USD 2.66 million.
Reputational Damage – No customer is thrilled to hear that a company they have interacted with has been compromised. Following an incident, the news will likely make the rounds in the media, people will talk, and even the most loyal of customers will lose trust in the company, resulting in lasting damage to your company’s reputation.
The importance of responding quickly
When an incident occurs, time is of the essence. The longer it takes to respond, the greater the potential impact on the organization. A prompt response can help minimize damage, reduce recovery time and costs, and limit consequences such as those mentioned above.
I don’t have an Incident Response Plan; What do I do?
Perhaps your company does not have an Incident Response Plan, or you do, but it is long overdue for an update. Creating a proper Incident Response Plan may seem like a daunting and tedious process, but Symptai can help. A good incident response plan should include the following elements:
Identify potential incidents: Consider the types of incidents that could occur in your organization, such as data breaches, malware infections, or natural disasters.
Assign roles and responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of key personnel in the incident response process, including the incident response team and management.
Establish communication protocols: Develop a plan for how internal and external stakeholders will be notified in the event of an incident.
Identify and document critical assets: Identify the systems, data, and other assets vital to your organization's operations and record their locations, configurations, and dependencies.
Develop incident response procedures: Develop procedures for responding to specific incidents, including containing, eradicating, and recovering from an incident.
Test and update the plan: Incident response plans are living documents that should be regularly reviewed, updated and tested to ensure that it remains effective and relevant.
The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving, and attackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods. No company wants to be involved in an incident, and failure to act swiftly and effectively spells irreparable damage to the company. It has become imperative that companies arm themselves with a robust cyber incident response plan to quickly detect, respond to, and recover from a cyberattack.
There are many resources available to help you create an incident response plan, including templates and best practices from organizations such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the SANS Institute. If you still feel overwhelmed, consult with Symptai’s cybersecurity experts to ensure that your plan is comprehensive and effective.