Effective Cyber Attack Solutions Require Smart IT Alerts
No business is immune to cyber attack, and IT teams need to be vigilant. Attacks that result in service outages can take a big toll, and not just on revenue. There can be lasting damage to future opportunities, brand and partnerships. For those reasons, it’s imperative that companies use IT alerts to proactively and reactively contain and manage threats.
Threats can come from all quarters, but the most frequent attacks arise from the tools we use every day. An estimated 55 percent of emails are spam and about half of malicious email attachments are disguised as Microsoft Office files. Every tenth web address is malicious, according to Symantec. Web attacks like “formjacking” – where hackers infiltrate a website you trust to collect valuable information like credit card details – are on the rise, with 4,800 websites attacked each month in 2018. Mobile ransomware infections and attacks on routers, connected cameras and other “internet of things” devices are also on the rise.
How Business Resilience Mitigates Cyber Threats
Being prepared for cyber threats requires your IT team to prioritize readiness, response and recovery. Communication is key in any IT continuity plan.
Readiness of resources includes having an alert system and protocols in place, tested and ready to go. You need clear workflows, pre-defined groups including command center and IT crisis teams, escalation paths and pre-written messages relating to threats. Make sure you do a risk assessment at least once a year because cyber threats are constantly evolving. Identify mission-critical systems in your business continuity plan (BCP) and document how they are connected so your team understands the vulnerability of the network, not just its component parts.
Continuity Management for IT Teams
IT alerts aren’t just used after the fact, after an attack has occurred. They can also be sent preemptively, to head off attacks and take precautions before any damage is done. For example, alerts can be used to warn users of imminent threats and notify them of a new software patch. Part of your cyber incident response team’s job should be to gather information about emerging threats, and take actions to keep your business out of harm’s way.
Prepare your IT team for threats by creating a cyber incident response team comprising analysts at tier 1 (your first line of defense, they review tickets and alerts) and tier 2 (experienced IT professionals capable of advanced investigation and forensics), plus cybersecurity specialist analysts. Include operations colleagues in your incident response to effectively contain a threat and block its access to additional systems or capabilities.
In your IT continuity plan, identify the roles and responsibilities that are key to your incident response and pre-determine who should be notified when and what your escalation paths should be. While planning, dial in your messaging in advance of any emergency. Map out the range of scenarios and the kinds of actions that should be taken before the crisis hits – and have pre-written alerts ready to go when urgent situations strike. We’re all better at making decisions before a disaster than in the middle of one.
The roles you prescribe may include the incident response team, managers who need to know about critical systems, and users who need to know about the systems they use. Don’t overlook external communications teams like customer service. They need to know the incident’s current status, too. Having a notification tool that can instantly integrate with internal systems to identify the right people and roles in the moment is a huge boon at this stage.
When thinking about scenarios, develop notification policies that govern who should be alerted and when, what you will need to find out, and the likely sources for that information. Create escalation paths for troubleshooting and analysis, and have a messaging plan so you can escalate to the right person when you need to.
IT Alerts For A Swift And Tactical Response
A well-executed response can contain or resolve an incident. On the other hand, a badly-managed response can make things considerably worse. It’s vital to have vigorous, coordinated responses to prevent or limit the loss of time, money and customers, as well as reputational damage. If you’ve correctly anticipated the range of scenarios that might arise, documented how a plan would be triggered, and mapped out your notification strategy ahead of time, IT alerts can reduce unwanted business impacts and speed response.
Once the crisis is over, your incident response team can help users transition back to their everyday modes of working. Bank some time to capture lessons learned and create a more secure, vigilant and resilient organization.
Well-planned IT alerts ensure the right people know the status of the response while helping your experts focus on the job at hand: restoring normal operations as rapidly as possible.
You are well on your way toward protecting your staff and organization.
Take the next step toward protecting your organization by learning more about emergency notification systems and the vital role they play in your emergency preparedness plan.