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By 20 November 2023 | Categories: news

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By Aslam Tajbhai, Head of Solutions at Data Management Professionals (DMP SA)   

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital threats, the terms "cybersecurity," "data management," and "data protection" are often interlinked, however, they are not synonymous. Cybersecurity is the shield against cyberattacks, while data management involves the meticulous handling of information from collection to utilisation. Data protection, on the other hand, is the vigilant guardian standing between your precious data and unauthorised access, use, or obliteration.

At the heart of this digital battleground lies a crucial player—Incident Response Plans (IRPs). Regardless of an organisation's size or industry, having a documented IRP is paramount. This acts as a “battle strategy”, outlining how an organisation will manoeuvre through the chaos of a cybersecurity incident—identifying, containing, eradicating, and recovering.

According to a 2022 survey by IBM, 72% of organisations have an IRP in place. The survey also highlights that only 60% of these organisations have actually tested their IRPs within the past year (2022). On average, it takes a staggering 280 days to detect a data breach and an additional 197 days to bring it under control. This is a financial and operational nightmare that no organisation wants to endure.

To fortify your defences, you need an intimate knowledge of your data—where it resides, how it is utilised, and who has access to it. This intelligence is the backbone of a robust IRP.

Within the framework of any IRP, the initial steps involve the detection and analysis of the incident. This intricate routine includes discerning the incident's type, gauging the scope of its impact, and uncovering its root cause. Once the incident takes centre stage, the subsequent move is containment—swift actions to halt its spread and mitigate further damage.

The third element with IRP is the eradication of the incident. This calls for the removal of the malware or any malevolent code that orchestrated the incident. The grand finale encompasses recovery—restoring affected systems and data while implementing measures to prevent a repeat performance.

Beyond the essential quartet of detection, analysis, containment, and eradication, the IRP benefits organisations tremendously as it is able to:

  1. Prioritise Backups: Treat backups as the unsung heroes awaiting their cue. Regularly tested backups are the safety net for recovering from a cybersecurity incident.
  2. Two-Factor Authentication and Ransomware Protection: Safeguard the backstage—implement two-factor authentication to thwart unauthorised access to backup data, while ransomware protection ensures the integrity of backup data.
  3. Keep Calm: In the face of an attack, maintaining composure becomes the maestro's key. Clarity of thought paves the way for sound decisions and a harmonious response.
  4. Clear Communication: Illuminate the stage with clear communication to stakeholders—employees, customers, and partners. Regular updates are the spotlight that dispels shadows and builds trust.

IRPs stand as a cornerstone—a vital investment for any organisation navigating the intricate web of cyber threats. A well-crafted IRP acts as an impenetrable shield, even against the most sophisticated adversaries.

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