cybersecurity

Balancing a Proactive and Reactive Approach to Cyber Incidents


A cyber incident is a type of security event that can harm a business like yours. Ranging from data breaches and system failures to malware attacks and phishing scams, these incidents can hinder productivity, revenue growth and customer satisfaction.

In most cases, a cyber incident will result in data loss or downtime. This can include loss of confidential information, customer data or business records. In some cases, a cyber incident can also cause business interruption or financial loss.

We can all agree that no one wants their business to be hacked. A single cyberattack can rob you of your time, money and peace of mind. In addition to getting systems operational and data restored, you have to let all affected parties know that their data may have been compromised. This can be a difficult situation to navigate for anyone, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

In this blog, we'll provide you with proactive and reactive approaches to tackle an attack, cope with the aftermath of a hack and prevent future incidents.

Proactive steps to implement

By taking these proactive steps, you can help protect your business from the devastating consequences of a cyberattack:

Routinely update your passwords
It's critical to update your passwords regularly to help keep your account safe. By updating your passwords every six months, you can help protect your account from being hacked. 

Here are a few tips on how to create a strong password:  

  • Use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols
  • Avoid using easily guessable words like your name or birthdate
  • Use a different password for each account
  • Don't reuse passwords

Use a virtual private network (VPN)
A virtual private network encrypts your company's data and gives you complete control over who has access to it. This can aid in the prevention of data breaches and the protection of your company's information. However, make sure to select a reputable provider offering robust security features.

Conduct regular security awareness training
As a responsible business executive, you must ensure that your company's security awareness training program is comprehensive, engaging and adaptable to new threats. In today's digital age, this is critical to protect your business.

Run regular phishing tests
Phishing is a type of cyberattack that employs deceitful techniques to try and obtain sensitive information from users or cause them to download malicious software. Phishing attacks can be highly sophisticated and challenging to detect, which is why it is essential to periodically test your employees to assess their vulnerability to this type of attack.

Reset access controls regularly
t is crucial to regularly reset access controls to prevent unauthorized access to protected resources. This helps to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive information. Resetting access controls can be done manually or with automated tools.

Use multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication is a security measure that requires your employees to provide more than one form of identification when accessing data, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized data access. This can include something they know (like a password), something they have (like a security token) or something they are (like a fingerprint).

Before we move on, take note of the cybersecurity training topics recommended by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for all small businesses:

  • Spotting a phishing email
  • Using good browsing practices
  • Avoiding suspicious downloads
  • Creating strong passwords
  • Protecting sensitive customer and vendor information
  • Maintaining good cyber hygiene

Reactive steps to remember

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) reactive incident response framework covers the following five phases:

Identify
To develop an effective incident response plan, security risks must be identified. This includes, among other things, threats to your technology systems, data and operations. Understanding these risks allows you to respond to incidents more effectively and reduce the impact of security breaches.

Protect
To protect your company, you need to develop and implement appropriate safeguards. Security measures to guard against threats and steps to ensure the continuity of essential services in the event of an incident are examples of safeguards.

Detect
Detecting anomalies, such as unusual network activity or unauthorized access to sensitive data, are needed to limit the damage and get your systems back up and running faster following an incident.

Respond
A plan to respond to detected cyber incidents is critical. This strategy should include breach containment, investigation and resolution strategies.

Recover
To minimize disruption, you must have a plan to resume normal business operations as soon as possible after an incident.

Implementing the above proactive and reactive steps requires time, effort and skillsets that are possibly beyond what you can commit to at the moment. However, you can still accomplish this by collaborating with an IT service provider like us. Our experience and expertise may be just what you need. Feel free to reach out to schedule a consultation.

Also, to walk you through incident prevention best practices, we have created a checklist titled "Cyber Incident Prevention Best Practices for Small Businesses," which you can download by clicking here.

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