Part 3 | Now What? 5 Ways to Reset After a Data Breach

In Compliance, Data Flow, Data Lineage, Data Privacy, Governance, Information Management by Tara Fusco

Part 3 of a 3-Part Incident Management Series

Ready or not, it happened. A cyber threat came knocking, and, whether the response was a drill or a scramble, the crisis has been resolved, and the organization survived to fight another day. Now what? This is the time to capitalize on the work done to shore up the foundation against future attacks.  

Never fear; here are five ways to leverage the learnings from an incident response to improve an organization’s information security position going forward.

1. Don’t assume it’s over

When addressing a cybersecurity incident, it is easy to get tunnel vision. When attackers are in the network, the focus is on identifying and remediating the problem that is known to exist.

In the wake of an incident, it is vital not to grow complacent.  While one problem may be solved, the organization may be the victim of an on-going campaign or multiple simultaneous attacks.

It is critical to take a broad view of the situation and ensure that it is fully addressed and that any systemic issues are remediated.  Otherwise, the organization may successfully beat off one attack but find out later that it missed a more significant issue or that the attacker didn’t give up after one try.

2. Finish what was started

During incident response activities, the organization likely took steps to gain further insight and understand its environment.  This may include inventorying file types, sample data classification, and doing deep dives into the network sections while investigating the intrusion.

While a good start, this data inventory and the map is likely incomplete.  After the rush of the incident is over, it’s wise to take the time to go back and expand the maps and inventories to areas that haven’t been touched to leverage gained experience.

Most organizations lack visibility for over half of the data within their networks.  This could make that data an easy target for cyberattacks since it may not be appropriately defended or monitored by the organization. After all, organizations can’t protect what they don’t know even exists. 

Protecting against the threat of data breaches requires finding and classifying this data so that it can be appropriately protected in advance of an attack.  Finish data inventories and maps in the area of the company where the breach occurred to defend and monitor the information that isn’t on the radar.

3. Expand the scope

Data breaches can be an isolated incident, but they can also reoccur if organizations aren’t careful.  If there were weaknesses that led to an incident in one area of the business, there is a good chance that those same weaknesses also exist in other parts of the company. Just because these vulnerabilities in those other areas were not exploited in this attack doesn’t mean that they won’t be in the future.

Using the information and lessons learned from the incident response activities now is the prime opportunity to develop a strategy for data identification and classification for the rest of the organization.  Some important takeaways include:

●  Information governance is essential for information security. Securing sensitive data and maintaining regulatory compliance requires properly identifying and classifying data within the organization’s entire data ecosystem.

●  Understanding data flow strengthens visibility. Companies believe they know how data flows through their environment, and they build controls based upon those assumptions. However, the operational reality of those flows is often quite different. Truly understanding how data flows within and outside an organization is necessary for ensuring information security controls are protecting what’s intended. 

Data security is a growing concern of the C-suite, and having the right strategies and processes in place is essential for maintaining and increasing cybersecurity maturity.  In 2019, 57% of IT security chiefs were regularly called before the board to report and provide opinions on strategic IT investments.  The ability to demonstrate measurable improvements and future plans is essential to maintaining executive approval.

4. Keep current

Once a data map and inventory baseline has been established for existing systems in an organization, put processes in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Avoid this problem in the future by identifying and classifying new sensitive data in real-time.  By capturing this information at creation, it ensures that there’s always an up-to-date view of the entirety of sensitive data in the network. With that, companies can more rapidly and effectively respond to potential security incidents.

5. Learn from the experience

Throughout the incident response process, companies probably identified issues and shortcomings in their policies and procedures.  These oversights made it easier for an attacker to access sensitive data and more challenging to investigate and remediate the problem.

In the wake of a cybersecurity incident, it is vital to learn from the experience.  Take the lessons learned from incident response – such as the importance of security and privacy by design – and build them into operational processes and growth plans to prevent this from happening again.

Be ready for the future with Clairvoya

No one wants to be the victim of a data breach.  However, the only thing worse than experiencing a breach is failing to learn from the experience.

Attackers know where to seek vulnerabilities within a target network.  Now is the time to ensure that they can’t find them.  Clairvoya’s software empowers organizations to respond with confidence, eliminate uncertainty, and be ready for whatever the future brings.  To learn more about our capabilities and how they can improve data security posture and incident response, download our ebook.

Download our GET OUT OF THE DARK EBOOK to learn more about how you can quickly tackle incident repsonse and confidently comply with new regulations.