How to Identify and Report Security Incidents
In today’s heavily connected and internet-driven society, it’s increasingly common for companies to invest in security incident management. When preventing an issue becomes infeasible, the next best thing is to promptly take the correct actions.
Here’s how to recognize security incidents to minimize their impacts.
What Is a Security Incident?
Although cybersecurity experts sometimes have slightly different definitions for cybersecurity incidents, they generally classify them into two main types. But generally speaking, a security incident is any attempted or successful violation of a company’s cybersecurity policies and protective mechanisms that brings negative consequences. Examples include:
- Evidence of unauthorized app usage or data access.
- Phishing attacks.
- Reports of social engineering.
- Compromised user accounts.
- Alerts about unauthorized network usage.
What Are the Two Types of Security Incidents?
Security risks don’t always result in issues. For example, an employee may leave a company laptop in the back seat of a taxi and receive a notification about the left property five minutes later. An analysis may also confirm the unlikelihood the mistake led to any compromised data or computer tampering within that brief window, especially if it’s password-protected.
In such cases, a security event is an observed occurrence that could compromise data, a network, or a company. Creating a robust security incident response plan reduces the chances of security events becoming incidents. Employee training can help too.
A cybercriminal may send phishing emails to every team member at a 100-person company, resulting in 100 security events. However, if no employees fall for the trick, none of the occurrences become security incidents with associated consequences.
Are Privacy Incidents Different From Security Incidents?
People should also know about privacy incidents. They often get discussed separately from security incidents but are nonetheless related.
A privacy incident happens due to the disclosure of regulated data. For example, a data breach that compromises customers’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) falls into this category.
All privacy incidents are also security incidents. However, security incidents may not affect regulated data.
Data breaches are another relevant category. They’re confirmed instances of unauthorized information access that often become privacy incidents.
Related: The Worst Data Breaches of All Time
How Can People Spot Potential Security Incidents?
Security incident warning signs come in several varieties. For example, during one attack at a water plant, a supervisor saw a mouse cursor moving on its own and noticed someone remotely raising the lye levels. However, cyberattacks in progress are not always so immediately obvious. Someone may see slightly higher network traffic levels but not feel they warrant further investigation yet.
Missing data is another warning sign of a possible cyberattack. However, it’s not always a sign of trouble. If someone merely can’t find one file, maybe they forgot to save it or accidentally placed it in the wrong location.
The problem is more severe if people report the loss of all their files.
Similarly, ransomware attacks happen when hackers lock down all the files on a network and demand payment to restore them. In those cases, people see messages that explicitly confirm the attack and instruct how to send the money. However, they might see other communications first.
When a ransomware attack crippled the Irish health service, it began when an employee clicked a link to get help after a computer stopped working.
It’s also problematic if numerous people report the sudden inability to access their accounts. Alternatively, they may receive emails telling them about email address or password changes despite not editing the account’s details.
What Is the Most Important Thing to Do if You Suspect a Security Incident?
When people suspect a security incident, they may immediately feel overwhelmed and not know what to do first.
The most appropriate initial security incident response in all cases is to report the situation to the correct party. Then the responsible individuals can take quick action to limit data losses and potential downtime. They’ll also get the details for a security incident report from anyone who knows about what happened.
Company leaders should make it as easy as possible for people to share the details of suspected incidents. One possibility is to include a link to an incident form in the footer of every email. Another option is to post security incident reporting phone numbers in prominent areas, such as break rooms, restrooms, and elevators.
Once a security team confirms a security incident, they may need to notify outside parties such as law enforcement personnel or national regulators. For example, companies operating or serving customers in the EU have 72 hours to inform data regulators after learning of breaches.
Why Security Incident Management Is Effective
There’s no single guaranteed way to stop all security incidents. That’s why most approaches focus on security incident response and management instead.
Creating an incident response plan is an excellent first step in getting all bases covered.
Having one increases the chances of a company recovering quickly after an issue happens. It also limits the likelihood of an incident happening again. Several reputable frameworks exist for companies to follow.
They include actions to prepare for a future incident, identify and analyze it, contain and remove the threat, and prevent future issues.
Those formal incidents mainly apply to people working at organizations with existing cybersecurity incident preventions in place. That’s because security incident management only works well when each person has a well-defined incident mitigation role and understands how to perform it.
Security Incident Management Is Everyone’s Responsibility
A person can still play a crucial role in a security incident response when working in a non-cybersecurity role. Their responsibilities may merely extend to reporting an issue to a supervisor and shutting down their computer; nonetheless, those seemingly small actions could limit the severity of a cybersecurity incident.
Additionally, everyone should take personal actions to limit a hacker’s access. Setting unique, complicated passwords can help, along with using multi-factor authentication when possible.
Security incidents will likely become even more prominent as the world gets increasingly digital-dependent. However, the information covered here can help people become more proactive in stopping them.
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September 29, 2021 at 07:07AM