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The Definitive Guide to Managing Cybersecurity Incidents

The Definitive Guide to Managing Cybersecurity Incidents

The Definitive Guide to Managing Cybersecurity Incidents

The success of a modern organization is increasingly influenced by its ability to manage cybersecurity incidents. Those with the right knowledge, processes, and infrastructure in place can protect assets and eliminate vulnerabilities. However, many companies are falling short when it comes to managing cybersecurity incidents – in fact, 70% of IT professionals say their companies are unable to respond appropriately to a cyber threat.

Many of these companies attempt to deal with cybersecurity threats on their own. However, without the right tools, technologies, and processes in place to detect, respond and recover, the impact of an incident increases significantly. That’s why we need to shift the focus towards a holistic approach to cybersecurity management. 

In this article, we explore the finer details of this approach to find out how organizations can effectively manage cybersecurity incidents.

The increasing threat of cybersecurity incidents

The threat landscape has changed significantly in recent years. We face ever more complex challenges, with increasingly frequent and sophisticated attacks carried out by cybercriminals who are more determined than ever to bypass cybersecurity defenses. 

One of the most common methods of entry is through social engineering attacks, such as phishing. Phishing is carried out online and involves tricking users into clicking on a link or downloading an attachment, then sending personal information or transferring money. It’s an increasing problem – the APWG (Anti-Phishing Working Group) logged more than 4.7 million phishing attacks in 2022 alone.  

Phishing is the key driver of ransomware attacks, currently one of the most serious cyber threats to organizations around the world. Ransomware is a method of extorting money from a company by gaining access to its system and threatening to destroy assets or leak data. It’s estimated that ransomware was used in approximately 70% of malware breaches in 2022 and, while the start of 2023 suggests a slight decline in ransomware attacks on a global scale, they are becoming more sophisticated and better targeted.  

Speaking of increased sophistication, a new wave of emerging technologies is bringing increasing complexity to cyberattacks and how we defend against them. AI-based cybercrime, deepfake technology, and MitM (man-in-the-middle) attacks continue to grow. Cybercrime poses a bigger threat to organizations than ever before. 

Meanwhile, the consequences of inadequately managing security incidents are substantial. With the average cost of a data breach rising to unprecedented levels, failure to manage and prepare for incidents can prove fatal for businesses. Moreover, attacks can damage reputation, break compliance regulations, and leave an organization’s most valuable assets extremely vulnerable. 

Incident management preparation

Preparation is a pivotal part of effective incident management. To be ready to deal with cybersecurity threats, companies should do the following:

Implement an incident response plan

A cybersecurity incident response plan is crucial to good cybersecurity incident management. Defining a robust, flexible, repeatable process means that when an incident occurs without warning, your organization has the right steps in place to deal with it quickly and effectively.

Partnering with the right MDR service provider ensures that your incident response plan is fine-tuned to your company’s precise requirements. Of course, every organization is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when developing an incident response plan. A tailored approach is needed. 

Your MDR provider will run a security audit to analyze your infrastructure in forensic detail. They will then design a comprehensive, bespoke cybersecurity incident response plan to ensure your company is ready to deal with any incidents that might occur.  

Form an incident response team

It’s essential to establish a team of security experts that can prepare and react to cybersecurity incidents. Examples of incident response teams include: 

  • Cyber incident response teams (CSIRTs): A team of security professionals tasked with preventing and responding to cybersecurity incidents.
  • Computer emergency response teams (CERTs): Similar to CSIRTs, CERTs work to reduce vulnerabilities with large organizations, notably global sectors of government and academia. 
  • Security operations centers (SOCs): Far broader in scope than other forms of incident response teams, an SOC incorporates high-level methods such as detection, response, and threat hunting. This is the service that an MDR solution provides.

Implement response tools

To manage cybersecurity incidents effectively, incident response teams will use innovative incident response solutions, such as:

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

SIEM uses advanced analytics to discover security threats and vulnerabilities. Through data aggregation, sorting, and consolidation, SIEMs can detect anomalous behavior and suspicious activity to better manage cybersecurity incidents. 

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

EDR is a software solution that continuously monitors and secures devices like desktop computers, laptops, tablets, IoT devices, and network servers while incorporating behavioral analysis and recording telemetry.

Network Traffic Analysis (NTA)

Many cybersecurity incidents occur over an organization’s network, making it essential to monitor network traffic and extract relevant information. NTA is a very valuable tool in this regard, helping to provide an in-depth examination of flow data and packet data to detect incidents within the network infrastructure. 

Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)

Technology is used to automate incident response workflows to reduce response time and manage security breach risks more effectively. It comes with advanced analysis and reporting capabilities, pre-defined playbooks for guided responses, and integration capabilities with other security tools. SOAR helps SOC teams streamline security incident management processes.

Key steps to managing cybersecurity incidents

To properly manage cybersecurity incidents, security teams must:

Detect and identify

Proactively searching for incidents across your infrastructure is necessary to prevent loss or damage to assets. Monitoring your infrastructure and detecting anomalous activity using alert investigation and threat hunting means you can identify incidents before they have a chance to make an impact.  

The most effective MDR providers use threat-hunting capabilities to secure the digital infrastructure of organizations. Threat-hunting tools use a blend of machine learning, statistical modeling, behavioral analytics, and heuristic techniques to proactively search for, analyze, and act on security events and observations to protect your network infrastructure. 

Analyze and triage

Understanding and categorizing cybersecurity incidents is crucial. Once analytical tools such as digital forensics, sample analysis, and intelligence integration have been used to ascertain the nature of cybersecurity incidents, they can be triaged.

Triage considers the severity of an incident, together with the impact on productivity and the potential damage it may cause. Incident teams will then decide the order in which they deal with security threats.

Contain and mitigate 

The information obtained during the analysis stage is used to contain the cybersecurity threat and mitigate or neutralize it, depending on its specific nature. 

A company’s containment strategy will be based on the severity of a particular incident, as well as the unique requirements of the company itself. Quick containment and mitigation can involve methods such as network segmentation, which isolates the threat, decreases the attack surface, and prevents any further data loss or damage. 

Eradicate and recover

Once the threat has been contained, it’s important to remove every aspect of it from the IT environment. Any malicious code and malware must be eliminated, and steps must be taken to patch or reconfigure vulnerable access points that might have led to the threat getting into the system. 

Next, penetration testing and/or vulnerability assessments need to be made, before a full recovery can be carried out, restoring data from a secure backup and returning operations to normal.

Lessons learned and best practices

Once the cybersecurity threat has been eliminated and business is up and running again, a comprehensive analysis and review are required. All members of the incident response team, together with all stakeholders, should ask questions and work towards solutions that can improve security measures and lead to better management of future security incidents.

When reflecting on the effectiveness of actions taken to manage the cybersecurity incident(s), there are many things to consider. These include:

  • The quality of the cybersecurity incident response plan. Identify the effectiveness of the cybersecurity plan – the speed and simplicity of its implementation and whether it has addressed all aspects of incident response. If there were problems with the plan, steps should be taken to address them, ensuring a clear, repeatable process can be used swiftly and effectively. 
  • Staff training requirements. Determine whether all members of the team are up to speed on general best practices, including how to avoid phishing attacks, how to navigate safely in the cloud, and how to follow company cybersecurity protocols
  • Tools and techniques. Consider whether there are any specific cybersecurity tools or techniques that can be employed to better manage similar cybersecurity incidents down the line.
  • Vulnerabilities and access points. Pinpoint any weaknesses in the cybersecurity infrastructure that could lead to repeat incidents. Ascertain the best way to correct these weaknesses.
  • Overall improvement of incident management. Identify the most critical improvements that would help the organization detect, analyze, contain, and eradicate any future threats.

Manage cybersecurity incidents with Ackcent

With the increasing threat of cyberattacks and their growing complexity, it’s more important than ever to have a clear and focused cybersecurity incident management strategy. From implementing an effective incident response plan to setting up a team of dedicated experts, many important steps need to be taken to ensure that your company is well-protected and ready to deal with cybersecurity incidents when they happen.

At Ackcent, we have all the tools, technology, knowledge, and experience to manage cybersecurity incidents. From preparing and implementing a custom-made response plan to threat hunting, detecting, and eliminating, we provide a holistic service for organizations across multiple sectors. We can work as an extension of your team, navigating a complex cybersecurity landscape to help protect you today and evolve as a successful company in the future.   
Ready to find out more? Contact our team of security experts to see how Ackcent’s MDR services can help your organization manage cybersecurity incidents.