The Hacking Response Plan
While it is important to guard against security breaches using all available means, an effective hacking response plan is paramount. At one time, it was unusual to hear that a company had been hacked. In those days, people might wag their heads as they read the headlines, condemning the victimized company for its lax security. In 2014, every organization is vulnerable and stands a good chance of being hacked, regardless of safeguards. Perpetrators continuously try new techniques in their attempts to obtain information and/or cause disruption. As the former FBI Executive Assistant Director who is currently Chief Security Officer at the security technologies company CrowdStrike, Shawn Henry, puts it: “Right now the offense outpaces the defense.”
Instead of believing the ramparts built around data and networks will not be traversed, the smart company today strengthens security but also assumes that someone will figure out a way to bypass it. The question is not “how will we respond if hacked?” The question is “how will we respond when hacked?” A strong response plan will lessen the damage to an organization’s reputation, minimize the impact to productivity and reduce the amount of data lost.
A compelling hacking response plan includes the following elements:
1) Quick detection. The faster an attack is discovered, the greater the chance to minimize losses. Make sure staff does not fear repercussions for reporting a breach.
2) Stopping the perpetrators. Know how to find out what happened and close the breach as quickly as possible, shutting down all known reentry points.
3) Effective design. Build IT systems to minimize damage. For instance, compartmentalizing systems may contain a hacking attack in one region.
4) Data protection and accessibility. Frequent and comprehensive system backups and a plan for restoration will minimize staff down time following a breach and allow the company to quickly regain productivity.
5) Legal advice. Depending on what type of data was compromised, you may need the advice of an attorney. Make sure you know whom you will reach out to when your company is hacked.
6) Public Relations. If your customers or other outside players are affected by the breach, you will need a plan to minimize damage to your company’s reputation.
7) Lessons learned. Document your response to the hacking attack and all associated consequences. The lessons learned will prepare you for the next breach.
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