The foundation, and arguably the most important step in managing a cyber crisis is to provide your business the safety confidence by having the right security infrastructures in place.
6 Practical Steps to Recover from Managing a Cyber Crisis with Strength
Step 1: Investing In The Right Security Infrastructure
Preventing a cyber crisis is always better than recovering from it, and you should invest in at least the following security measures:
A firewall will monitor and control the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on pre-defined rules/policies.
2. Secure Hardware
You have to ensure all devices that have access to your network are secure by:
- Only using network equipment from well-known brands and authorized resellers
- Ensuring all devices are up-to-date with the latest firmware and software updates
- Ensure all devices are configured properly
- Turn off unnecessary services on network routers and witches
3. Up-To-Date Software
Make sure your operating system (OS), software, and applications are up-to-date with the latest patches and updates. You wouldn’t want hackers to exploit your data via a vulnerability in one of your applications that has actually been fixed by the vendors with a patch. Ideally, you should perform updates as soon as these updates are made available, but if it’s not possible, make sure to have a patch management schedule in place.
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4. Malware and Bot Protection
Make sure to invest in adequate anti-malware (antivirus) software, and they should be installed on all devices including mobile devices. Make sure the antivirus solution is also kept up-to-date.
Also, with most cybersecurity threats nowadays being performed by automated bots, make sure to invest in a good anti-bot software. Today’s hackers are getting really sophisticated in programming their bots and they have adopted the latest technologies including AI and machine learning to mask the bots’ identities. It’s crucial to also have an AI-based bot detection solution to combat these threats.
5. User Authentication
Human errors are still the number one cause for data breaches, and your users are often the weakest link in your company’s cybersecurity. You should:
- Provide adequate authentication policies, for example by requiring a unique username and password for each individual
- Implement 2-factor authentication when applicable
- Use only a single, approved remote access method to ensure consistency
- Set up a guest Wi-Fi network, separated from the internal network for visitors and employees’ BYOB devices
Step 2: Form a Cybersecurity Response Team
The next step is to identify and form a dedicated team (or person) who will be responsible for managing the cybersecurity incident in the event of a crisis.
This crisis response team will be responsible for developing and updating a crisis response plan (more on this later), and leading the whole organization during a cybersecurity crisis.
Depending on the size of your organization, you may opt for a relatively small cybersecurity crisis response team or a large, complex one. You should also consider the available employee resources and the nature of potential security hazards, as we will discuss in the next step.
Step 3: Define and List Potential Incidents and Crisis
Make a list of potential cybersecurity incidents based on your digital assets and resources. For example, if your business is using a web application, then you should consider web application vulnerabilities when making this list.
Define what qualifies a security incident as a crisis to determine your priority. Remember that your company and security team only have limited resources, so you’ll need to prioritize.
For instance, you may decide that only incidents that may result in the loss of confidential customer data are a crisis that deems the highest priority.
Step 4: Create Your Crisis Response Plan
For each crisis you’ve defined in the previous step, you should develop a dedicated crisis response plan.
You can use visual representations like flow charts or diagrams to help employees quickly understand these steps so they can easily follow them during any crisis incident.
In some cybersecurity attack vectors, for example, DDoS attacks, you can’t devise a plan when the incident already occurs, and time is of the essence. This is why planning a proper response plan beforehand is essential to mitigate the crisis and, if possible, reverse the damage.
We also need to ensure the response plans meet your local regulations and/or specific legal requirements in your industry. For example, if your business must comply with GDPR, then you must notify relevant authorities about any breach of the customer’s confidential PII information within 72 hours.
The more detailed and comprehensive your crisis response plans are, the faster you’ll be able to recover from a crisis in a worst-case scenario.
Step 5: Develop Crisis Communication Plan
Depending on the nature and severity of the crisis, you may need to issue an official statement about the crisis incident both to internal parties (i.e. investors) and external stakeholders including partners, customers, and media.
Again, to ensure time efficiency, it’s best to develop crisis communication templates beforehand, ready for different scenarios. For example, you can develop a crisis communication template for a relatively minor data breach incident and another one for a severe data breach crisis.
Especially if your business is legally required for official announcements following specific incidents, then these communication plans will significantly help.
Also, define who will be responsible and authorized to speak about the incident, and create a list of stakeholders (both internal and external) that must be notified in the event of a crisis.
Step 6: Document The Crisis Response Plan
The last (but not least) step is to create a comprehensive crisis management plan document containing all of the items we’ve covered in the above steps.
When developing this document, keep in mind to:
- Make sure it’s short and to the point. Make sure it’s as easy as possible for your employees to comprehend the document
- Keep copies of the crisis management plan in a secure but accessible location. For example, you can keep copies of the plan with each department head.
- Test the plan regularly with mock drills, and keep updating the plan as needed. Include new incidents and potential incidents in the management plan.
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