Business Management / Human Resources

5 fast ways to detect and respond to data breaches

Chester Avey

Updated: May 28, 2020 · 4 min read

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With the average cost of a data breach reported to be around $3.6 million, cyber attacks can be enormously damaging, making cyber security something that businesses can no longer ignore. The sophistication of hackers and cyber criminals is rising daily. At the same time, the attack surface—the number of possible entry points for criminals to breach organizations—is growing exponentially. Ultimately, there is no silver bullet to prevent attacks; cyber security is an on-going and constantly evolving challenge.

Statistics suggest that it takes businesses an average of 131 days to detect a breach—during which cybercriminals can inflict a significant amount of damage. This is why it is essential for businesses to identify and shut down attacks before they cause serious financial and reputational damage. This is known as threat detection and response.

Read on for a look at some of the best techniques for more effective detection and response to cyber-attacks.

1. Closely monitor your systems

It was only a few years back when perimeter controls such as firewalls and antivirus software were enough to keep your business secure. However, these sorts of preventative security solutions no longer provide adequate protection against new types of threats. Hackers, for instance, are now using AI to create new forms of ‘polymorphic’ malware, which can easily evade traditional security defenses.

One of the best ways to detect threats that are able to bypass your perimeter defenses is through the use of behavioral monitoring technologies such as SIEM. SIEM stands for “security information and event management,” and the software is used to capture and analyze data on your network in order to identify malicious activity.

Once a SIEM system notices something unusual it will generate an alert for a human to analyze and investigate, and, if necessary, respond to.

2. Secure your endpoints

In almost every business, the number of endpoints in use has grown enormously over the last few years. Endpoints are any devices connected to your network, such as servers, laptops, desktops, mobile phones, and tablets.

Every endpoint is a potential opening that a cybercriminal could look to exploit. Endpoint security is an enormous problem for businesses, to the extent that it has led to the development of more powerful endpoint security tools. Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is one such solution platform gaining in popularity for its ability to enhance threat visibility across endpoints and empower security teams to better identify, contain, and remediate attacks.

3. Start threat hunting

Even with these powerful monitoring tools, and unless you’re a cybersecurity expert yourself, you cannot rely on your own ability to detect everything. Instead, it is recommended that businesses take as proactive an approach as possible to threat detection by engaging in threat hunting. This involves using the latest security data and threat intelligence to hypothesize about the latest threat behaviors plus continually tune and optimize security systems to detect new and unknown adversarial tactics and techniques.

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from threat hunting. However, it is important to note that developing an effective threat hunting program is not something that you can be achieved overnight. It is an ongoing process that demands time and resources.

4. Create a cyber incident response plan

It is important for your business to have an incident response plan in place so that everyone involved knows who to respond in a range of potential scenarios. According to the PwC Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2018, 70 per cent of organizations have no cyber incident response plan in place and consequently are underprepared to respond to an attack.

If you put a response plan in place you can ensure that, in the event of a breach, everyone is aware of their responsibilities, and knows how to respond in a variety of scenarios.

5. Regularly test your detection and response capabilities

Another important way to improve response to cyber-attacks is to perform regular cyber security assessments, such as penetration testing and red team operations. During a red team operation, cybersecurity specialists will use the same techniques as cybercriminals to assess the effectiveness of your organization’s security controls, processes, and people. Information gleaned by the red team over the course of the operation can then be used to help inform security improvements.

Chester Avey has over a decade of experience in business growth management. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with other like-minded professionals through his writing. Find out what else Chester has been up to on Twitter: @Chester15611376.

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