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Insights from an external incident response team: Strategies to reduce the impact of cybersecurity attacks

Security incidents, such as data breaches, malware infections, and phishing attacks, can have serious and long-lasting consequences for businesses, so proper incident response and cybersecurity measures are of utmost importance. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the incident response process, and list common mistakes companies make that put them at risk of cyberattack. It will also give advice on how to improve security measures, as well as explaining why incident response teams are necessary.

The first step in incident response is to define what a security incident is. Different companies may interpret it differently, depending on their perspective and context. In general, an incident is an undesirable event. For example, an IT team may consider a drop in the speed of interaction with an online exchange by 1% to be an incident, while another company may not take notice of a phishing email opened on a device not connected to the main infrastructure.

The next step is to prepare for incident response. Companies should have the right security tools and controls in place, and the right people to manage them. Having a (SOC) or a third-party provider and effective monitoring practices can help detect potential security incidents in their early stages.

The third step is identification. This relies heavily on the preparation done in the first stage, and if done properly, can allow an incident to be discovered before any harm is done. When an incident is detected, the response process should be initiated.

The fourth step is containment. This stage involves working with the external incident response team and the customer to understand the situation and develop effective tactics to contain specific threats. The external response team and the customer must work together to determine which connections are legitimate, and which are not.

The fifth step is eradication. The incident response team should provide the customer with an incident analysis, including malware analysis and scans of the network. Then, any detected anomalies should be removed.

The sixth step is recovery. This involves restoring the customer’s IT system and reactivating and testing information security tools. The response team should also be on the lookout for any “bookmarks” left behind by the attackers, which could be used for subsequent attacks.

The seventh and final step is the lessons learned. The main purpose of the incident response team is not simply to restore the system, but to understand the attack vector and entry point used by the hackers, the timeline of the attack, and potential prevention measures that could have been implemented at different stages. This information can then be used to prevent similar attacks in the future.

To improve security, companies should ensure that basic cybersecurity measures are in place, such as patching vulnerabilities, maintaining an accurate inventory of infrastructure, and providing staff with training in digital hygiene. They should also follow industry reports and trends, as these can tell them what tools and attacks hackers use, and provide specific recommendations on how to protect against them. Finally, companies should consider running penetration tests to identify any weak points in their system.

Overall, effective incident response and security measures are essential for protecting businesses from cyber threats. By following the steps outlined in this article, companies can make sure they are prepared for any security incidents that may occur.

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