Society is becoming more dependent on the internet for nearly all personal, academic and professional activities, so the threat of cybercrimes is increasing accordingly. Factor in the rapid shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic and the table is set for an explosion of online criminal activity. To combat cyberattacks, businesses will need highly trained cybersecurity professionals to plan effective responses to hacking incidents.
What Are the Biggest Cybersecurity Threats?
According to the article, “5 Biggest Cybersecurity Threats,” “the FBI has seen a fourfold increase in cybersecurity complaints” since the dawn of the COVID-19 era. Much of this can be attributed to increased telecommuting, but user error is another weakness hackers frequently exploit. Here are the most dangerous and common forms of cyberattacks:
- Social engineering
- Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
- Third-party software
- Cloud vulnerabilities
Best Practices for Cybersecurity Incident Management
Ensuring the cybersecurity of an organization is a complex mission. However, here are some steps companies can take to prepare for potential breaches most effectively and expediently.
- Prepare for cyberattacks as though they are inevitable.
Cybercriminals are among the most difficult perpetrators to apprehend, and their criminal schemes become more elaborate every day. Because of this, planning for inevitable cyberattacks is every bit as important, if not more so, than strategizing response plans. An article published at JDSupra suggests the following preventative measures:
- Mandate and enforce the use of multi-factor authentication
- Encrypt all data
- Protect data by regularly creating backups
- Install patches or updates regularly
- Test and review incident response plans in advance
- Be prepared to shut down your system.
The first step organizations should take when they’re victim to a cyberattack is limit access to their networks. This is the quickest way to minimize exposure resulting from the breach. The article, “How To Survive A Cybersecurity Attack,” cites the case of the technology company Kaseya. Almost immediately after being hacked, Kaseya terminated access to the affected systems. In addition to reducing exposure, the “company’s rapid remediation and mitigation measures saved thousands of small and medium-sized businesses from suffering devastating consequences to their operations and minimized any impacts to critical infrastructure.” Limiting risk and exposure to the customers who depend on them should be a company’s primary goal in responding to cyberattacks.
- Keep the system down until the experts are certain the risk is resolved.
The temptation to get everything up and running again can be overwhelming, but a patient approach is best. Consider, again, the case of Kaseya. The necessary repair patch was ready to go quickly, but Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya, decided to err on the side of caution. This turned out to be a wise decision as it “protected more than 99.9% of its core customers … ” So while it may have taken Kaseya a few extra days to get back online, they ultimately minimized the risk factor for the businesses that depend on them.
- Maintain a skilled and effective incident management team.
One of the most important aspects of responding to cyberattacks is having a well-constructed incident management team. A blog on security incident management published at Digital Guardian suggests that a company’s “incident response team should include functional roles within the IT/security department as well as representation for other departments such as legal, communications, finance, and business management or operations.” Companies may also want to consider involving local law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
- Conduct post-incident analysis.
No matter the size of the breach, companies should thoroughly review and analyze whether they succeeded or failed in response to it. This is the only real way to substantially improve cybersecurity moving forward. Some aspects of a strong post-incident analysis plan should include:
- Creating a policy for evidence collection, so that it will be viable for legal proceedings
- Utilizing forensics for analysis, reporting and investigations
- Updating security protocols as necessary
As more of the working population shifts to remote work, the need for effective cybersecurity will only intensify. This will require well-educated, highly-trained professionals who can craft effective incident response plans. Aspiring cybersecurity professionals looking to enter any number of fields would benefit greatly from the academic training available through Murray State’s MS in Cybersecurity Management program.