Cyber-attacks are becoming more prevalent and complex. The sophisticated techniques that cyber-criminals use in a bid to access your networks often lead to devastating consequences due to massive financial and data losses. More organizations are falling prey to cyber-attacks. Cyber criminals can attack your network at any time, and without prior warning.
Having preventive measures in place is a good idea. However, businesses are not completely immune to cyber-attacks. Therefore, there’s need for a post-attack recovery plan that will help you retrieve your data and mitigate losses once hackers strike. Here’s how you can recover from a cyber-attack.
Identify the Scale of the Problem
More often, companies remain in the dark about cyber-attacks and data breaches on their networks for up to 200 days after these incidents have occurred. You should identify the problem as soon as a hacking incident is reported. Getting all the facts right helps you formulate a pragmatic response plan. Establish the damage caused by the attack with the help of your IT team and trusted third-party vendors.
The entire network should be scoured to pinpoint possible loopholes. You also need to analyze data related to the hacking attack to determine whether your company’s internal security protocols were in place prior to the incident. During the identification of the breach, ensure that you document the time that it happened, the type of attack that it is, its effect on your assets and clients, and its intended victims.
After the scale of the problem has been established, you should immediately separate any sensitive data from your network. If login and banking information isn’t encrypted, ensure that you do so straight away. All the hacked logins should be changed to tighten up network security. If it is a malware attack, uninstall and reinstall all the affected files to prevent the malware from spreading further. Malicious files that entered your system during the attack should also be isolated and removed to remove all security vulnerabilities.
Communicate the Incident to Your Clients
If the attack affected your entire system, you need to reveal that to your customers and anyone else who was affected. You shouldn’t wait for too long before informing customers since such a decision can see you facing a class-action lawsuit. Do not be tempted to deny or downplay the attack.
Rather than waiting for this information to reach your clients via rumors and other unauthorized channels, take the initiative to communicate the truth to them in a forthright manner. Downplaying the damage only worsens the situation instead of bolstering your image. In this regard, liaise with your marketing and PR divisions to issue a public apology to clients affected by the attack.
This press release should clearly outline steps that you are taking to prevent such incidents in future, and information about compensation. To maintain your clients’ trust in you, work with relevant federal agencies when investigating the hacking incident. Your findings must be made public. You should also communicate regularly with clients in the course of the investigation to keep them informed.
Restore Your Data
The significance of having a data backup strategy shouldn’t be downplayed. It helps you recover whatever data that you may have lost to cyber-criminals during the hacking incident. Backups also help to restore your customers’ hope that not all is lost. This acts as an important springboard that will significantly boost your recovery.
Before you restore lost data, reformat all hard drive volumes and afterwards, reinstall applications and operating systems. A backup is akin to a business continuity plan since it helps you keep hold of all relevant information about your company and its clients.
A recent study by The Diffusion Group established that companies whose systems get hacked yet they do not have data backups are likely to close down within 6 months of an attack. Regularly test your data recovery plan to make sure that it won’t malfunction when you need it most. Having all the data at hand ensures the continuity of your business thus preventing the massive financial losses that are heralded by cyber-attacks.
Foolproof Your Network
Cyber-criminals are likely to target networks that have suffered attacks before due to the presence of known loopholes. In the aftermath of a cyber-attack, you should bring on board cyber security professionals to partner with your IT team in a bid to help your firm recover. According to IBM, these professionals can help you put in place water-tight security measures to minimize chances of similar attacks in future.
Appoint a team that will be responsible for the development and implementation of a network security program for protecting your system from all kinds of security threats. Investing in the latest security technologies, advanced firewalls, and intelligence systems also shows your commitment towards fool-proofing your network against potential cyber-attacks in future.
Strengthen Your Legal Defense
Getting sued after a cyber-attack is commonplace. Therefore, you should prepare a defense team in advance in the event that a class-action lawsuit is brought against you. The Department of Justice advises businesses to forge a working partnership with state and federal law enforcement agencies before cyber-attacks occur. This makes it easier to report a hacking incident. Stating an investigation will be equally easy.
The defense team that you constitute to handle lawsuits that are likely to be filed against you needs to have prior experience in cyber-crime litigation. Since cyber-crime is a growing concern in the IT sector, having a professional team will also help you stay updated on the latest developments. A competent defense team will help you avoid making massive payouts to customers in the aftermath of the hacking incident, thus helping you recover.
Draft a Cyber-Security Policy
This may sound like an afterthought plan which nonetheless, can contribute significantly to your recovery. In case your organization does not have a cyber-security policy, you need to draft and implement one that works for you. Since cyber-security evolves with technological advances, ensure that your strategy is proactive and also factors in the technological advances.
Such a policy will not only help you predict potential attacks, but also proposes ways of addressing them. Test the effectiveness of your cyber-security plans regularly by simulating an attack, or by conducting an internal audit. This way, you will be able to identify internal and external weaknesses in the policy. It will also assure you that your organization is fully prepared to handle hacking incidents in future.
A cyber-security strategy protects you against both internal and external threats. Internal threats pertain to loopholes created by employees and partners knowingly and unknowingly. The policy that you will implement in your recovery plan should make everyone responsible for future attacks that will be perpetrated on their ends. Besides this, the strategy should focus on training so that employees, partners, and vendors know how to protect themselves and your network from cyber-criminals.
The strategies mentioned above can help you recover from a cyber-attack. Besides managing your crisis and fool-proofing your network, it is advisable to formulate a contingency plan that will help you craft a comprehensive IT system assessment strategy. You must also evaluate your network regularly so that potential loopholes can be established and addressed accordingly.