6 Essential Questions To Ask While Facing A Security Breach

It is essential for a user to know about it well and stay alert while using a network or device

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By Remesh Ramachandran


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Nowadays, almost all computer systems or networks face the risk of security or data breach. No matter how guarded the server or device's security might be, no organization can neglect this peril. Adversaries carry out data breaches primarily with a malicious purpose. Hence, it becomes essential for a user to know about it well and stay alert while using a network or device.

You should not panic if you observe a breach of data in your computer network systems. You should instead look forward to taking necessary defenses and actions against the offense, but before that, you must ask these following six questions to yourself.

Also Read: Eliminating Cyber Threats in 2020: Why Enterprises Need to Rethink Cyber security

Did the Breach Really Take Place?

Before exploring solutions to handle a breach, the information technology (IT) security team of the organization should confirm whether the breach has happened. It could be a false alarm triggered by unscrupulous sources to set your security team in chaos. Validation of the data breach is critical, irrespective of whether you learn it from external sources or through the monitoring of your internal network system.

Also Read: 5 Security Trends to Watch in 2020

What Should Be the Initial Response to the Breach?

Once you confirm the malicious activity has taken place, the enterprise should pool in its resources to combat the breach. Businesses have a laid-down procedure to follow under such circumstances. Escalating the matter to the CISO level and the organization's general counsel is crucial. They might decide whether to inform other members of the executive leadership, including the CEO. It is also mandatory on the part of the organization to report the breach within 72 hours. The European Union's GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act (upcoming regulation) mandates the reporting of breaches within 72 hours. Nevertheless, the business should report the violation irrespective of whether specific laws govern them or not.

How Did the Hacker Gain Access to Your IT Network?

It is critical to investigate how the cybercriminal gained access to your computer networks. Secondly, it is also vital to learn how long they had this unauthorized access. Usually, hackers gain access by using methods such as phishing or password spraying or a credential-stuffing attack.

Passwords can be hard to remember. Hence, a significant proportion of your employees might be using easy-to-guess passwords. They could also reuse passwords frequently, thereby making it easy for the adversary to guess. Training people to use complex passwords is essential. One should also investigate whether the breach has happened due to the carelessness of a third-party vendor or business partner.

Also Read: How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Cyber Security Landscape and Preventing Cyber Attacks

Is the Hacker Still Able to Access Your System?

You have done the spadework of reporting to your higher authorities and identifying the source of the breach. The next step is to ensure whether the cybercriminal still has access to your IT environment. Hackers install a persistent backdoor-entry malicious software that could resurface after a brief stillness in their activity.

Hackers can gain access through any account, privileged or non-privileged. The privileged accounts are more at risk because of the fewer security restrictions. Therefore, it is imperative to monitor all the privileged accounts to ensure that the hacker does not get a backdoor entry into your systems.

Have the Attackers Stolen Some Information?

Your computer network could have extensive data on it. You should know what the criminals have stolen. It could be credit card information, SS numbers, health data and any other financial information that could harm your customers. It could also happen that the criminal might not have taken any data at all. The breach could also affect the company's intellectual property.

Also Read: The Dos and Don'ts of Cyber Security Measures to Help You Protect Your Business and Assets

What Was the Objective of the Breach?

The motive of the attack is crucial. The cybercriminals could be after your intellectual property and secret business information. They could also be gathering information to target your company for a significant attack subsequently. They could even attempt a financial hack to glean confidential information. The hackers might be pranksters, as well, who love to disrupt operations of a system temporarily. Do not rule out the probability of an insider job in any way. The idea behind it is to know the motive of the hacker and take steps to resolve the issue.

Final Words

No computer network in the world is entirely immune to virus attacks or such security breaches. Therefore, each enterprise and user must asses their data security and take measures to stay protected against such attacks. But it is also crucial to investigate and ensure that a breach has occurred before taking any step further in a rush and possibly getting in more trouble.

Remesh Ramachandran

CISO | Security Researcher | Ethical hacker

Remesh Ramachandran is an ethical hacker. He has solved several sophisticated cybercrime and real-world hacking cases, and has worked for the government and various other national and international agencies. Remesh is currently working as a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) for an organisation.

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