Data security is paramount in modern organizations. Data breaches put your company in a vulnerable position. Not only do they attract heavy fines from regulators, but they also damage your brand. Customers lose trust, and the results can be catastrophic.
Cybersecurity is a fast-moving field with unique solutions. However, you must have a breach incident and response plan no matter how sophisticated your security posture is.
Here are 3 steps you must take immediately following a data breach.
Examine data access protocols
Unused credentials, phantom certificates, and broken passwords are leading causes of data breaches. These digital entities offer malicious actors access to sensitive data and put your organization at risk. These days, identity management is essential to cybersecurity, and a breach often highlights deficiencies in data access policies.
Begin by examining data warehouse access since that’s where most breaches originate. Most data warehouses are sophisticated enough to hold tons of data but aren’t designed with security from the ground up. Thus, your thorough evaluation of choices, such comparing Snowflake vs BigQuery, won’t matter much unless you install solid IAM controls.
Note that most IAM platforms focus on human access verification but neglect monitoring machine IDs. Given the rise of DevOps culture, machines access your data far more than humans do. Examine your code for possible hard coded credentials or other security keys that malicious attackers might have used.
Needless to say, you must revoke and reissue certificates, keys, and passwords. Check whether your existing security solutions detected strange usage patterns before the breach occurred. Often, platforms flag risks, but human response times lag, leading to a data breach.
Malicious insider attacks are a frequent cause of data breaches. Examine the credentials of the entity that caused the breach and make any changes to data access based on your investigation.
Isolate during investigation
A data breach is a shocking event, and it can be tough to decide the course of action in the immediate aftermath. One of the first steps you must take is to isolate your network and examine the state of your backups. Backups stored off-site will help you get back to normal.
However, don’t be in a rush to restore your systems. You cannot remain offline for lengthy periods, but examine your network for traces of trojans or any other malware that might be hidden, waiting for you to restore access. Many data breach attacks occur in waves.
Thus, restoring your network after the first wave might create an even bigger issue down the road. Isolate your network and change passwords and keys immediately. It’s best to hire security experts to examine the state of your network if your IT team doesn’t specialize in security.
Conduct a thorough security audit and pinpoint the reason for the lapse. To ensure your business runs smoothly, restore your backups on an alternate network so that the breached network doesn’t affect it. These days data breaches are more than a financial problem.
They’re also a regulatory breach. Therefore, begin working with law enforcement officials immediately and cooperate with their requests. If the breach is large enough or involves ransomware, you will have to hand over all logs and information to law enforcement.
At the very least, you will find yourself working with Homeland Security, so make sure you gather as much information as possible.
Coordinate your response
A data breach is a test of your relationship with your customers. Needles to say, your customers will initially react negatively. Once you’ve detected the breach and isolated your network, involve your legal team to determine your liability.
Your legal team will also help you figure out the best way to work with law enforcement agencies so that your liability reduces. You must also involve any PR resources to coordinate a response and issue updates about the investigation.
Social media is a great place to connect with your consumers, so make sure you’re transparent at all times. Internally, communicate the effect of the data breach to your employees and let them know of the next steps. Most employees will face workplace disruptions due to network isolation and the revoking of credentials.
Let them know what is normal and what is not. For instance, a lack of access to sensitive data is normal in the immediate aftermath of an attack. Receiving malware in emails and continued threat messages in an inbox is not. Educate your employees, and they’ll become a huge asset in your fight against the perpetrators of the breach.
It’s also wise to initiate emergency work protocols and ensure your customers face as little disruption as possible. If you don’t have any emergency business protocols in such situations, then keep communicating with your customers and let them know how much damage the breach has caused.
Tough, but manageable
Data breaches are a nightmare to handle. The best way to deal with them is to first reduce the probability of such an attack happening and then follow the steps outlined in this article in case a breach happens. Transparency and communication are the keys to overcoming any challenges during these tough times.