Your organization will get breached. It’s an unfortunate reality of the world that we currently live in. There’s no “if” to being breached. There is only “when.”
Sure, we can stop most incidents from escalating to a full-blown breach, but we can’t stop all of them. It’s a daunting mental hurdle to try to get over, but knowing this can help us tailor our security programs in the right way. Primarily, many organizations put too much effort into preventing incidents from occurring and don’t give nearly enough attention to planning for when an incident inevitably happens.
Even knowing how important an incident response plan is and creating and executing an effective one often proves challenging for organizations—particularly smaller businesses and those whose security programs need maturing.
Thankfully, there are information security consulting firms who work tirelessly to help organizations recuperate quickly from incidents and breaches. Cyber Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) provide organizations a safety net in the event of an incident, especially for organizations that can’t cast one themselves. Having an incident response consultant on call as your security and incident experts can provide incredible stability to your security program. Here are 10 reasons why.
Believe it or not, having a company on call 24/7 for incident response will save your company money long-term. Yes, you’re paying a monthly fee to have a consultant on-hand, but you’re still saving money.
How is that possible?
Well for starters, the median cost of a business email compromise is $24k. And those tend to be low-scale attack methods. Imagine what kind of costs may incur from more sophisticated security breaches that target more sensitive information and applications.
There are many hidden costs that people fail to recognize as associated with a big data breach. When you handle the response internally, employees are often expected to work extra hours until the breach is resolved. This could lead to paying out overtime. If the breach is bad enough, or if ransomware is involved, it’s also likely your entire business could halt due to machine downtime and employees not being able to do their jobs.
You may also have to pay legal fees and deductibles and increased premiums on insurance.
It’s safe to say a breach is not a cheap thing. By having a cybersecurity incident response team at the ready, you can ensure you’ll not only prevent more incidents from occurring but that you’ll nip them in the bud when they do.
Small- and medium-sized businesses have a particularly challenging time handling incidents, as well as security in general. A couple factors contribute to this challenge.
First, organizations (especially less sophisticated ones) treat security as an extension of their IT department. While this may make intuitive sense for those with limited bandwidth, the truth is that information security impacts every single area of every business and should be treated as such. Business leaders and executives should be the ones making information security decisions, but those decisions often fall on the IT department instead. It’s rare that an IT person is well-versed in security measures the way an incident response consultant would be.
Second, small businesses typically ask their employees to wear many hats. While members of your IT department are likely to have some knowledge of security, that’s not their sole responsibility.
With a cybersecurity incident response team on-hand, you’re ensuring that a skilled incident investigator who is dialed in to the latest security threat intelligence and landscape is handling your incident. This expertise is typically unparalleled.
That’s not to say that your internal security team doesn’t have the ability to handle incidents that arise. It instills further confidence that the incident will be handled the right way when the person handling the triage is someone with years of incident response experience and security alphabet soup (certifications) after their name.
When you subscribe to managed services with CSIRTs, you’re ensuring that a dedicated security professional with years of experience, excellent incident response knowledge, and the ability to quickly and effectively learn your business and security landscape is the one handling your incidents. This will help improve your ability to prevent breaches and incidents, handle them as they spring up, and mitigate the damages that might result from your defenses failing.
3. Turnaround Time
Partially for reasons already listed, turnaround time is an important advantage of working with an incident response consultant. Full-time security analysts are likely to be more skilled and trained than a lot of the internal personnel that tend to handle incident response. The knowledge they have of various types of environments and threat landscapes allows them to quickly diagnose issues and resolve them in a timely manner.
It’s not always easy to detect incidents and breaches with your internal security team. Every industry and business is different with how they treat security and how they handle breaches and incidents, but nearly every business struggles with this. A study from Varonis shows that the average time it takes organizations to detect a breach is close to 200 days across all industries.
And that’s just to recognize a breach occurring—that doesn’t even take remediation efforts into account.
To contain a breach, it takes an average of nearly 70 days across the same industries.
It’s clear that handling incident response internally is not working for most companies. You’re looking at nearly 270 days—roughly 9 months—on average from the time a breach happens to the time it’s been remedied. Just imagine how much machine downtime, data loss, or worse could happen in 9 months.
Working with security professionals to monitor, manage, and bolster your security programs and incident response planning could mean the difference in keeping your business alive.
4. Training and Education
You’re probably paying for the training and education of your employees. Keeping their skills fresh benefits your business long-term, and it provides your employees with a sense of personal growth and development.
Certain trainings and lessons, however, are hard to replicate and costly to administer.
Good Cyber Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) extend beyond helping you resolve your incidents as they arise. They work to understand your business and how security fits into the grander scheme. This includes training and education.
Because response professionals have an in-depth knowledge of security practices and threats and learn your environment and business intimately, they can work with your internal team to teach them how to handle incidents given the nuances of your business. This includes things like tabletop exercises and breach simulations, allowing your employees to work through a cyber attack without the stakes of losing data and money.
This type of education and training is not something you get if you keep your incident response program internal.
5. Plan Creation and Implementation
The education and training aren’t just valuable because they make your team better security professionals. They’re valuable because they allow your entire business to better handle incidents and breaches moving forward. That’s part of why training and education are so important.
On top of that, though, CSIRTs help you put plans in place. I’d venture to guess the reason the breach response and mitigation times near 270 days on average is that a lot of these businesses don’t have a good way of detecting incidents as they arise, but more importantly, they likely fall short on creating and sticking to a road map for responding to incidents in their organization.
Working with a CSIRT gives you resources to create, implement, stick to, and work from. When an incident does occur, you’ll have a plan of attack and the structure necessary to calmly and effectively mitigate any damages as best as possible.
6. Paid to be on Call
Better yet, let a CSIRT carry out the plan for you. Chances are, you don’t want your employees working all hours of the night to respond to a crisis. This is especially true if the people in your organization who handle the security measures are paid hourly.
It’s literally a CSIRT’s job to be on call when you-know-what hits the fan. Instead of paying extra to have your employees stay late, forcing them to go into panic mode trying to resolve the issue, and hoping they mitigate it properly and in a timely fashion, use response professionals! It’s what they’re paid to do.
7. An Outside Eye
This was touched on earlier, but a response team can be so much more than just a batphone. Sure, they’re great for that too. But more importantly, many security consultants do more than just incident response. These team members live and breathe all facets of information security operations. Because of this, they can help with so much more than just incident response.
Primarily, information security consultants can give you an objective look at the overall maturity of your security program.
Information security risk assessments are a crucial part of all security programs. Looking at the controls you have in place (and not just network-based), comparing those controls to industry standards, and then providing an easily understood and objective score gives your organization the framework it needs to make the improvements it wants to see.
Once the objective measurements are taken, your organization can begin to take the steps that make sense to improve the overall security program. If you’re only looking at your risk measures internally, you’re not getting the complete, unbiased, and objective look at where your weaknesses and strengths are.
CSIRTs who double as security consultants can help you pinpoint your weaknesses and bolster your security measures—preventing more incidents in the first place.
8. Disclosure Advice
Do you know what you’re required to disclose and when? If you don’t, you’re not alone.
Not all events are incidents. Not all incidents are breaches. But if an incident does get to breach-level, it could require disclosure. The number of data records impacted by a breach, the type of data it is, and other factors all determine if and who needs to be notified. It also depends on what industry your organization belongs to.
For example, healthcare industries are required to follow HIPAA laws, which are enforced by the Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR). If a healthcare company has personal healthcare records of clients leaked, they’re expected to notify all of the impacted persons within 10 days. If 500 or more individuals are impacted, they must also notify local media outlets for reporting purposes. They will also need to notify the Secretary in this case.
The rules are different for each industry, and it can be challenging to navigate these muddy waters. Part of an incident response analyst’s job is to help you understand what you are and aren’t required to share and with whom.
9. Intelligible Reporting to Upper Management
It’s not always easy to convey everything that happens in your environment to your upper management. Network security is complex. Incidents are, too. And frankly, when it comes to incidents, it’s not often a pleasant conversation when reporting your detection and response findings back to the management team.
Good incident response consultants and CSIRTs are expertly trained in converting security knowledge into concise language and numbers that business leaders can understand. This experience proves to be valuable, particularly when it comes to effectively communicating investigative findings, or when you’re vying for more budget within your security program.
Business leaders often expect to be given the rundown in five minutes or less. They may lose interest, comprehension, or sight of the value if you’re unable to do so. Working with a CSIRT improves the chances that these conversations go the way they need to.
10. Remediation Recommendations
If you’re able to identify incidents quickly and stop them from escalating into “mega breaches,” there should be less work to do here. However, remediation is an important step of any security flaw or weakness.
If you’ve experienced a breach that impacted your systems, machines, etc., you’ll need to put an effective incident response plan in place to fix the damage it has caused. These triage steps (remediation) allow you to recover more quickly from any of the damages the breach may have caused.
Most good CSIRTs have seen a little bit of everything. They’ll have the ability to assess all the damages that occurred and tailor remediation efforts to those damages and your business and security environment. Without their help, you may find yourself only doing a partial clean-up, or throwing the kitchen sink at problems that don’t need it.
Sure, we can stop most incidents from escalating to a full-blown breach, but we can’t stop all of them. Having a CSIRT on call as your security and incident experts can provide incredible stability to your security program, helping you protect yourself before, during, and after a breach. To learn more about incident response services, visit frsecure.com.