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Incident Response Management: How to Proactively Prepare for Security Breaches

What are the risks for security breaches?

Cybercriminals are more brazen than ever in their attacks. The playing field is constantly shifting as businesses brace for the next major incident that will unfold on their domains. Security Operations Centers (SOCs) monitor regularly for intrusions that could impact the enterprise, scanning for known offenders such as malware or suspicious network traffic sources or patterns.

A 2016 SANS Institute paper revealed that 55% of businesses had experienced a cyber attack, and a staggering 50% reported a data breach. The cost of such intrusions can be significant:

  •      Lost employee productivity due system unavailability
  •      Fines and penalties from regulatory agencies due to non-compliance
  •      Loss of trade secrets or business-critical information such as customer data
  •      In extreme cases, changes in business leadership
  •      Brand reputation damage

How can businesses proactively prepare for security breaches to minimize potential risks and respond to incidents effectively?

Preparation is key

Proactive planning and establishment of a meaningful incident response team takes more than just IT or information security resources compiling a list of procedures to follow when incidents are identified. Organizations must address incident response management as a collaborative effort:

  • Define roles and responsibilities clearly. Include executive management in the process to have buy-in for commitment and necessary funding. A useful statistic for acquiring funding your IR plan was published by Security Affairs, predicting the total annual cost of cybercrime will reach $6 trillion by the year 2021. Be sure your planning includes the owners of critical systems and data so that they understand the IR effort and the need for effective security measures.
  • Evaluate your business environment and infrastructure. Determine vulnerabilities and exposure from both internal and external sources. Many thefts of data or unauthorized access instances are the result of actions by current or former employees.
  • Set performance metrics for each phase of the plan. Management and impacted users will want to know when the incident was discovered, how much time lapsed before containment, what steps were taken to resolve the incident, details of the type of attack, any sources that have been identified, and what has been done to prevent future occurrences. This information will be valuable in justifying the plan itself and will provide insight for continuous plan refinement.
  • Test the plan. Your plan may look effective, but without regular trial runs, it’s difficult to convince management that you are ready for cyber attacks. This is your chance to uncover weaknesses in procedures or communications.
  • Staff and train personnel so that you have the ability to react immediately, in the event of a true incident. Prepare all parties for when a cyber attack hits.

Provide tools that allow IR team members to detect and manage security cases effectively. Manual efforts at analyzing mountains of data are ineffective for incident response.

Invest in Security Orchestration and Automation

Implementing security orchestration and automation software gives your IR team the tools needed for incident detection and incident response case management. With accurate real-time data capture, analytical tools, and integrated automation workflow, the team can detect and focus on true intrusions or malware that presents an immediate risk to your organization.

As previously highlighted in the following blog post, “Is Your Business Prepared for the Next Cyber Attack?” consider orchestrating and automating workflows around the following processes:

  • Data enrichment: this enables you to learn from the past by collecting information faster, enabling machines to conduct investigations. This, in turn, allows teams to work more efficiently, reducing the time it would take to conduct deeper investigation.
  • IR playbooks: having solid procedures and processes in place for responding to security threats is a fundamental component, but adding the ability to create playbooks that already contain orchestrated responses will greatly benefit your organization. Some of those benefits are fewer human errors, faster response time and real-time notifications.

The tedious task of manually investigating alerts is not only time-consuming but can also be a waste of time spent on false positives. As such, the average cost of time wasted on these alerts comes to $1.27M annually. Security teams get inundated with too many alerts, facing the challenge of not having enough personnel to help. This leads to a higher margin of error. Therefore, automating the investigation process will help security teams work smarter and faster.