Preparation is essential to preventing cyber-attacks, and there are many reasons to be proactive. By taking steps to prepare for a cyber-attack, your business can minimize damage and work to stay focused on what you do best – run your business.
As a law firm focused exclusively on technology, data security and privacy, and incident response, Octillo is dedicated to helping organizations create robust cybersecurity programs that help prevent or lessen the impact of potential cyber-attacks. This starts with helping organizations, and their employees, understand the important role they play in protecting their systems and safeguarding data. Here are Octillo’s top tips for remaining cyber-ready in this fast-moving threat landscape.
Train Your Staff
Many of today’s cyber threats are a result of human error, making employees incredibly relevant to an organization’s overall security posture. Providing regular training and raising increasing awareness and understanding about common security threats, like phishing, should be a top priority. Octillo recommends onboarding all new employees with a comprehensive cybersecurity training and then leveraging at least annual updates thereafter.
Audit Your Infrastructure
A baseline security audit and assessment of your information security program is a necessary step in preparing for potential cybersecurity incidents. Regularly conducting security audits can help identify vulnerabilities before they become a problem. Once you have a benchmark for your organization’s current security posture, you can begin taking concrete steps to improve your security and help protect your business against potential cyber-attacks.
Focus on Preparation with an Incident Response Plan
In the event of a cyber-attack, key personnel need to understand their roles in order to act quickly and efficiently. That’s why it’s important to have an Incident Response Plan in place that defines your team's roles and responsibilities, outlines the process for detecting, containing, and recovering from an incident, and reflects the specific risks and regulatory obligations of your organization. Be sure to review and update your Incident Response Plan annually to account for changes in personnel, regulations, and the cyber threat landscape.
Do not forget to print out and distribute your Incident Response Plan in case access becomes limited during an actual or suspected event.
Schedule an Annual Tabletop Exercise
While creating a detailed Incident Response Plan is a necessary step to prepare for cybersecurity incidents, a plan is only as effective as its execution. Testing your IRP annually through a tabletop exercise helps to identify vulnerabilities, improve coordination and communication, and is a cornerstone best practice for all companies.
A tabletop exercise is a discussion-based simulation that requires a team to respond to a scenario unfolding in real-time. Tabletops simulate all incident response stages – from detection to eradication, response to recovery, and crisis communications to compliance with legal obligations. These exercises not only test IRPs and other policies but also practice team-based decision-making, communication under pressure, and creative problem-solving.
Conduct or Update Your Data Map
Developing a data map is a key ingredient to understanding the flows of data in and out of an organization. Data mapping provides a detailed inventory of what types of data are being collected, how that data is processed, where it is stored, and with whom it is shared.
In the context of a #databreach, data mapping can be instrumental to helping your business understand the file servers in which your data resides and the ways in which your data may be segregated to minimize exposure and harm.
Don’t Forget About Third Parties
Companies typically rely on a host of third parties to assist with key business objectives and deliverables, including temporary contractors, outsourced IT, legal teams, PR teams, or even specialized consultants. While third parties may require access to data, it is important to limit data sharing to information necessary to perform their roles. Octillo recommends leveraging key data security and privacy clauses in third-party contractual agreements to address data protection and storage, destruction, and breach notification.
Assess Your Remote Work Environment
Having a remote work force has become essential for some organizations, but remote employees present additional security risks. Octillo recommends that businesses implement a virtual private network (VPN) with multifactor authentication (MFA), which allows distributed offices to connect securely.
Importance of Encryption
Encryption converts data from a readable format into an encoded format. Since encrypted data can only be read or processed with the correct encryption key, it serves as a last – and crucial – line of defense against unauthorized actors, including those who have gained access to your networks and systems. Encryption is a simple and effective way to help keep your data and devices safe from cyberattacks or inadvertent disclosures and has become the industry or regulatory standard in many contexts.
Conclusion – Cyber Readiness is Key
Octillo recommends organizations across industries adopt a proactive approach to both data security and privacy initiatives from data mapping and regulatory assessments to a tabletop training that pressure tests your incident response plan. Preparation is the name of the game in understanding what and how your organization will respond in the event of a cyber incident. Partnering with a team that understands the threat and legal landscape surrounding data security and privacy is a great first step towards improving your cyber readiness. Our team of experienced attorneys, who are also devoted technologists, are especially equipped with the skills and experience necessary to work with businesses of all sizes and in all industries to develop comprehensive scalable data security and privacy infrastructures to navigate this fast-moving area.
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