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How to Respond Quickly to Cyber Threats

When you’re running a business, cybersecurity needs to be one of your priorities. If a data breach occurs, then your response needs to be rapid, and the highly stressful environment means that protocols can often be overlooked. A cyberattack means that your response has to be clear-headed and practical while following the law, and ensuring that all potential damage is minimized as much as possible.

If you’ve been hit by a cyberattack and you’re unprepared, the damage can be significantly worse. However, if you’re planning how to respond quickly to a cyberattack before they happen, here’s what you need to know.

Incident Response Plan

Your first step should be to design a detailed incident response plan. This plan should be both designed and then tested in a practice session. Small businesses especially need to have this in place. All incident response plans need to include:

  • Initial preparation
  • Detection and analysis breakdown
  • Containment, Removal, and Recovery
  • Aftermath analysis

Establish these stages and you’ll have a clearer idea of how to cope much more quickly in the face of a cyber threat.

Build a Team

An incident response team is going to be a critical component of your reaction to a cyberattack. Make sure that you have appointed a team leader that has access to key members of the management team, or who can make decisions quickly without having to go through other departments. Depending on the size of your organization, you may also include a member of the HR team and representatives from the communications department. If you have a legal department, they too will need to be included.

Source Detection

Your team will then need to identify just where the breach happened and take the necessary steps to contain it. Make sure that your incident response team is aware of the signs and signals of a cyberattack, including reports from staff, log data clues, software alerts from file integrity tech, or malware tech (to name just a few).

Containment and Recovery

Containing the potential damage is one of the most critical stages for your team, so they need to be aware of how to disable network access from the endpoints identified and discussed by McAfee. Passwords will need to be reset across the entire company, including any freelancers or remote workers. You will then need to:

  • Back up infected systems
  • Test systems to ensure they are operational
  • Identify compromised components and recertify them if needed

The goal is to return to full operational capacity as quickly as possible while ensuring that any exposed backdoors or high-risk user accounts are eradicated.

Damage Assessment

Once the attack has been contained, your team will have a little breathing room. This will give them time to assess how severe the attack was. The team will need to produce a report into both the attack and their response, highlighting the cause of the attack and where it originated from. At this stage, you might consider opening a full investigation.


Different states and countries have different laws regarding how and when to notify the public that you have fallen victim to a data breach. Make sure you know what you’re legally required to do and when. This is important because those whose data has been accessed will also have to manage their online accounts to ensure that identity theft does not follow.

Once you have recovered from your cyber-attack, you then need to check all of the actions that were taken, analyzing the response and identifying what could be improved. The goal is to prevent cybercriminals from using the same method to regain access.

Make sure that all of your systems are as protected as possible, fixing any security gaps that resulted in the breach. Make updates to your response plan as needed. That way, should your business come under attack again, you will be even more prepared to limit the damage and can establish recovery even more quickly.

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