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5 Best Practices For Cyber Attack Response Planning

5 minute read - Posted by Daniel Wagstaff on Dec 4, 2019 8:30:00 AM

Cyber attacks have become commonplace, so much so that there’s an attack every 39 seconds effecting 1 in 3 Americans every year. However, individuals aren’t the only targets of hackers. Businesses lose millions of dollars every year due to cyber attacks. In fact, the NotPetya ransomware attack cost Merck over $300 million every quarter.

Even major international corporations such as Maersk, FedEx, Honda, and Hitachi have been victims of cyber attacks too. These attacks can cripple many companies financially, and others may see a decrease in productivity. To avoid this, you need to have a cyber attack response plan in place. This can help you thwart the attack or at least reduce the damage caused by it. Here are the best practices for a cyber attack response plan.

1. Risk Assessment

This is a crucial part of every cyber attack response plan and should be done before you’re hit with a cyber attack. Without knowing the different types of attacks that you can be hit with, you’ll be shooting in the dark. You must identify the various attacks that can strike your organization and estimate their likelihood. Along with that, you should assess the severity of these attacks, as well.

Doing so can help you plan contingencies in your cyber attack response plan. If you’ve already created a risk assessment before, you should consider looking at it again to check if it applies to your current systems. If not, you need to perform another evaluation and update it. By staying at the top of the risks, you’ll know how to combat them when they strike.

You must also define the thresholds beyond which you will initiate your security incident response plan.

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2. Appoint Key Members And Identify Stakeholders

It’s important to identify all the key individuals who’ll be involved in the cyber attack response. These include the members of your cybersecurity team and other key stakeholders, such as senior management and partners.

You need to document the roles of each of these stakeholders in your cyber attack response plan. It’s also essential to train all these members for their respective roles. These can range from thwarting the cyber attack to sending out press releases. Doing so can help in speeding up your response to the cyber attack.

3. Have An Emergency Communication Plan

Communication is key when it comes to emergencies. If you don’t have a communications plan in place, you may not be able to coordinate well with your team and stakeholders. This, in turn, can delay your response to the attack.

This is especially true during cyber attacks when your systems mostly get compromised. In such a situation, you need to have an emergency notification system in place to send out alerts to all your stakeholders and key members. A system that allows two-way communication would be even better suited here as it can help you communicate and coordinate with your team members quickly.

Additionally, if you’ve got a multilingual workforce, you can send out alerts in various languages to ensure that everyone can understand them.

The best part about emergency notification software is it can send out multi-channel notifications instantly. This can help you speed up your response to the cyber attack and minimize your damage.

4. Recovery Plan Hierarchy

Your cyber attack response plan should also include a recovery plan that defines a clear hierarchy of how different processes shall be executed. You need to decide who’ll be the decision making authority for each step and design a flowchart for the same.

These flowcharts can also be used to plan out the flow of information post the cyber attack. By having this process in place, you can recover from the attack in a planned manner without a lot of hassle. It can also help you avoid complete chaos in your organization, which could be the case if the decision-making process and information flow aren’t well-defined.

You must also have a process in place to prepare public statements. This is crucial because some cyber attacks may end up compromising sensitive data. In such a situation, you must have statements ready to address the stakeholders to ensure that the breach doesn’t harm your brand’s reputation. Try to be honest with all the stakeholders involved and reassure them that you’re doing your best to curb the damage.

5. Incident Event Log

When there’s any cybersecurity breach, you’ll need to monitor loads of information. This includes the cause of the breach, its discovery, and the manner in which it was addressed. By tracking all this information, you can get a better idea of your infrastructure and the team’s preparedness.

This event log must include the following:

  • The time of the cyber attack’s discovery and its nature
  • The communication process
  • All the relevant data from your security software solution and event logs

By maintaining a thorough incident event log, you’ll be able to review it at a later stage to understand your response. It can also help in preparing your team to tackle all future cyber attacks. Additionally, your legal team and law enforcement will also find this log useful during and post the attack.

Final Thoughts

Cyber attacks can strike at any instant and can cripple your entire IT infrastructure. They can lead to tremendous monetary losses and you should have a cyber attack response plan ready to fight them off effectively.

Assess the risk of all the possible cyber attacks and plan for them accordingly. You should also appoint key members to deal with the attack and identify all the stakeholders. It’s necessary to have a communication plan in place as well to deal with the crisis quickly. Lastly, you must have a plan to recover from the attack and maintain an event log of the entire attack.

What are the other best practices for a cyber attack response plan? Let me know in the comments below.

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Topics: Mass Notification System, RedFlag, cyberattack