There are countless cybersecurity threats out there, and the number and variety of attack vectors keep rising. While we would all like to rest assured that we will not be subjected to a security breach, the reality is that, for most organizations, sooner or later you will be struck by a security incident that will require a response.
It is thus essential to have an incident response plan in place, which will allow you to identify breaches that have occurred, limit the damage and recover your business operations. The faster and fuller your response, the greater your ability to mitigate the effects of a security breach. Preparation is key, and while prevention is always preferable to remediation, it is important to ensure you can restore your system in the event of an attack.
This article provides a brief outline of the tools and practices you should consider when developing your incident response strategy.
Considerations for Responding to Security Incidents
To ensure you have the ability to adequately respond to security incidents, you should consider the following tools and practices.
The primary target of a security breach is usually data. This could include sensitive business data or personally identifiable information (PII), which can have severe repercussions if lost or exposed. For this reason, organizations often combine security practices like access control and two-factor or multi-factor authentication with third-party tools to help secure their data.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is a solution that helps protect data from loss, leakage or theft. secure data at rest and in transit, protect endpoints and detect data leakage. It typically includes restorative capabilities, allowing data to be recovered if lost or stolen.
Backup and Recovery
If you are to be properly prepared for a data breach, you will need to have your current data backed up, either in the cloud or safely in an off-site data center. Recovering your data, and thus your business operations, is contingent on having access to that data, so it is essential to have an automated backup mechanism in place that will ensure that your data is constantly updated.
The major cloud providers offer powerful backup solutions, which leverage the redundancy of multiple availability zones in various regions across the world. Cold data storage is ideal for backup purposes and is significantly cheaper than standard hot storage, used for data that is being actively used.
Endpoint Detection and Response
Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is an intelligent tool that is used in conjunction with traditional endpoint protection mechanisms. EDR tools come with a variety of capabilities but what they have in common is that they monitor all connected endpoints to provide threat intelligence.
A good EDR solution should be able to analyze endpoint events and filter out false positives to identify genuine security threats. Techniques may range from identifying anomalous endpoint activity to scanning for file signatures. The insights provided by EDR analytics can be used to further improve your preventative capabilities.
Security Management and Analysis Tools
There are a number of tools that leverage artificial intelligence to help manage threat intelligence and response capabilities. These tools can automate the process of collecting and correlating security data, analyzing security events and filtering false positives, as well as implementing automated response through the use of incident response playbooks.
Security management and analysis tools that complement each other include:
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)━aggregates data from a range of threat intelligence sources, such as scanning and analysis tools, firewalls and threat intelligence feeds. This generates a large amount of information, which often needs to be further sorted, either by manually by security analysts or with the aid of AI-based tools.
- Security Orchestration and Response Automation (SOAR)━complements SIEM by adding responsive capabilities, using playbooks that provide instructions for how to deal with specific threats.
- User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)━analyzes network activity based on a pre-defined understanding of normal behavioral patterns. This helps detect insider threats other stealthy forms of attack such as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), which will not be detected by firewalls or antivirus.
It is your obligation to notify affected parties if their data or resources have been compromised. Make sure you are familiar with your obligations under regulations and industry standards that apply to you, such as the GDPR, PCI DSS and HIPAA. Notification can also allow the data owner to implement their own remediation measures, such as applying a credit freeze in the event that payment card data is exposed.
You should establish a clear notification policy detailing who is responsible for sending alerts, to whom and in what circumstances.
Despite the high risk of falling prey to a cyberattack, and the potentially heavy cost of a data breach, a security incident needn’t be the end of the world. By planning and implementing a comprehensive incident response strategy, and taking advantage of the tools and best security practices available to you, it is possible not only to limit the chances of an exploit in the first place, but also to mitigate the damage in the event that an attack is successful.