We recently touched on one of the latest big security breaches, which occurred when retail giant Target failed to properly handle an incoming cyber security threat. That one costly mistake cost millions of Target customers their privacy and brought global consumer trust to an all-time low. Now, another serious security breach has occurred, hitting 200 hospitals in the US and compromising the confidential data of 4.5 million patients. So what can you do to prevent your organization from becoming the next target of online hackers? Simple. Develop and implement a quality incident response plan. Here’s how.
Incidents are basically our first indication that a problem has presented itself. They’re often precursors to a much more serious disaster. So, if they’re not handled properly, the results can be catastrophic (just ask Target executives). When an incident occurs, it means something out of the “norm” has happened. The next step should be analyzing and prioritizing that incident so that the next appropriate course of action can be taken to address the problem, if necessary.
In terms of its severity, an incident can generally be defined as any event that, if unaddressed, may lead to a business interruption or loss. For instance, a virus getting introduced into your network starts as an incident. If not properly handled, however, that virus can cause irreparable damage. Upon further investigation, it turned out that the reason for the Target debacle was not so much that hackers got into the system, but that IT did not respond to the initial incident as they should have. The result was the disaster we all heard about on the news.
To avoid all of this, an incident response plan should be developed that includes the following actions:
- Have a quality monitoring system in place
- Identify the potential incident
- Respond to the incident in a timely manner
- Assess the situation, analyzing the severity of the incident
- Notify the appropriate parties about the incident
- Take appropriate measures to protect sensitive data and minimize impact
- Organize, prioritize and escalate the incident response activities accordingly
- Prepare for adequate business recovery support in the wake of any damage caused in the interim
- Review process, making necessary adjustments, to prevent future similar incidents and improve the way they’re handled
In our recent article, we also discussed how IT process automation can help streamline the incident response process. First, you can integrate your automation tool with your monitoring system. That way, all incoming alerts will be handled according to the predefined workflow and serious issues don’t get missed.
Not only does automation help to ensure that critical incidents are identified, communicated, escalated and addressed in the timeliest manner possible, but it can also help identify potential risks by recognizing when something occurs that is out of the “norm” for business processes. This allows you to proactively intervene and hopefully prevent any issues from occurring in the first place.
An incident response plan is something that every organization should have in place. Don’t risk becoming the next business that appears on the news for a breach of confidential information. Get your IRP in place today, and optimize it with automation to proactively protect your business against dangerous cyber-attacks, both now and in the future.