How To Minimize the Time to Respond to Cyber Security Threats

Keeping data safe and ensuring network security is safe from threats are on most companies and government entities’ priority lists. Cyber threats and data breaches are becoming more common as cybercriminals find new and unique ways to hack into secure data by invading networks and breaching security vulnerabilities. The best way for companies to protect consumers’ data is to invest in cyber security tools and systems. Ensuring quick detection and response in the event of a cyber security threat can help ensure the loss is minimal and the threat is neutralized before more damage is done.

With slow response times to cyber security threats, companies run the risk of federal fines, losing customer trust, and spending valuable time focusing on the breach instead of business priorities. A company’s response time can make the difference in how far the cyber security threat can penetrate the systems and obtain important data. Being prepared with a system in place to minimize the time it takes to detect and create a response plan is a beneficial way to minimize the time it takes to respond to a cyber security threat.

Why Speedy Detection & Response Time is Critical

Data is a valuable asset that is consistently sought after by many types of cybercriminals. It can be trying to reach personal data, financial data, or intellectual property. With the increase of threats and the evolution of tactics and techniques, a breach or cyber threat is likely, even with the most secure systems in place. A fast detection and response time is the best chance tmitigate the potential damage.

Detection is the time it takes from when the attack begins to when an internal IT team can detect the threat. The response time is how quickly a team is in action after the threat to stop and contain it. Detection of cyber security threats and breaches is astonishingly slow, with time to detection being anywhere from two days to weeks before a breach is detected.

A successful cyber attack allows for malware to quickly take root in the systems and allows the attackers to move freely in the environment to reach their goals. The longer the threat remains before detection, the more costly and challenging resolution becomes. The consequences of slow detection and response include:

#1 More Stolen Data 

For many attackers, the main goal is to steal important data and as much of it as possible. The longer an attacker is left in the system, the longer they can detect and extract sensitive data.

#2 Potential Entrenched Intruder 

 If an attacker is given access for a lengthy period of time, they will take measures to help ensure access remains. The attacker, when given time, can explore the network thoroughly and create mechanisms for re-entry and preserving their access, such as backdoor installations and password theft.

#3 An Attacker is More Aware & Easily Alerted 

When an attacker has had access to data and a network for an extended amount of time, they can set up systems to quickly alert them to potential investigations allowing them time to remove evidence and lay low.

#4 Evidence of Attack May Vanish 

If an attacker doesn’t wipe the evidence themselves, some evidence can survive for long periods of time, but this data tends to be temporary. The data can easily become lost if a computer restarts, and that evidence vanishes and is no longer helpful to security teams.

#5 Slow Response Leads to Large Backlog & Long Mitigation 

If a cyber security threat is slow to detect, the investigation and subsequent mitigation can take much longer due to the number of risks a hacker can leave over time, also called a backlog.

How to Reduce the Time to Detect Cyber Threats 

The faster a company is able to detect an incident, the faster the response time. This leads to a lower impact. There are important measures, policies, and teams in which companies can allocate time and resources to help reduce the time it takes to detect and respond to a cyber security threat. Here are some of the most effective ways to detect breaches faster and reduce the impacts.

Put Together a Dedicated Incident Response Team 

Enlisting a dedicated incident response team can help with the preparation and quick action in the event of a cyber security incident. The team is responsible for detecting security events and following an incident response plan to help reduce the damage and minimize the impact on the business and the consumers.

Creating an Incident Response Plan for Cyber Security

Data breaches are bound to happen even with the most secure systems and networks. Creating an incident response plan will help allow a company to act quickly to identify and reduce the negative impacts of a cyber attack. An incident response plan is a strategic plan that consists of policies and procedures outlining the possible events and how to evaluate, contain, and recover from a security incident. The plan should consist of four steps according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):

#1 Preparation 

The preparation stage of an incident response plan involves assigning roles for each of the dedicated incident response teams and a review process that evaluates the risk of the network and systems in place and determines vulnerabilities. The assets are then prioritized to protect the most sensitive data.

#2 Detection and Analysis 

Identifying any existing threats that exist on the network is the next step in an incident response plan where a company uses security systems to monitor and analyze data for an indication of a current cyber security threat.

#3 Containment, Eradication & Recovery

The containment phase has a primary goal of containing and isolating the attack before it does any further damage to data or the system. Once the threat has been contained, the threat is removed through eradication from the system and the network is restored to the original working condition before the incident. Recovery involves more analysis to ensure the eradication was successful.

#4 Post-Incident Activity 

After the threat has been mitigated, the post-incident activity involves evaluating the previous threat and learning how to respond better. The team should review how the incident occurred, what happened, the effectiveness of the actions taken and the steps taken to respond, and lessons learned.

Invest in Security Automation Tools 

Investing in security automation enables a computer program to continuously scan the network for threats to detect, investigate, and remediate with and without human help. A security automation tool can send triage threats and prioritize alerts, including rapid threat detection, greatly reducing the time to detection.

Invest in Company-Wide Training on Security

All employees should be enrolled in company-wide education and training to help prevent and quickly detect cyber security threats. With consistent training, employees will better understand the risks of using the network and can help to identify any potential security risks and know who to report to if an incident is detected. 

Decrease File Permissions Across the Network 

When a company has sensitive data, permissions should be limited to only essential employees who manage or need that data in order to perform a job function. Providing limited access for employees to sensitive data helps to reduce the risk of exposure and vulnerabilities to the data.

Insights for How Employees Can Help to Detect Threats 

Cyber security training should be a regular occurrence for employees to help them when they begin a new role and to help remind them of the threats that loom as they navigate their roles. Cyber-attacks and security threats can happen at any time, and they can be difficult to detect, but there are a few cybersecurity tips, and techniques companies and users can implement to help detect cyber security threats.

#1 Report Password Change Incidents 

If any employee receives a notification a password has been changed, notifying IT or a security team is the first step they should take. A notification email could mean a password has been compromised.

#2 Report Suspicious Emails or Pop-Ups 

Hackers will use email campaigns or phishing to infect a network with malware by pretending to be a reputable company. Ensure email addresses are being checked before opening any attachments and ensure they are reported to the IT or security team immediately.

#3 Report Suspicious Network Activity 

When attackers are present on a network, the network can seem bogged down, which is a sign attackers are using the network to download data. Report the incident right away.

#4 Update Software Regularly

Keeping software up to date can help to reduce the risk of an attack. The updates provide valuable patches that can keep the software and network secure.

Conclusion

As technology advances and evolves so do the techniques attackers use to bypass strong security systems. Cyber threats have drastically increased over time and are inevitable. These attacks can take down networks, expose sensitive data, and disrupt operations that can cost companies millions. Having security automation and a dedicated incident response team and plan in place will cut down the time it takes to detect a cyber security threat.

Sources:

https://www.nsa.gov/portals/75/documents/what-we-do/cybersecurity/professional-resources/csi-nsas-top10-cybersecurity-mitigation-strategies.pdf

https://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/specialpublications/nist.sp.800-61r2.pdf

https://www.cisa.gov/uscert/ncas/tips

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