How to Handle a Cyberattack Targeting Your Business?

by Carson
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cyberattack

In today’s technology-driven world, cyberattacks are becoming smarter and more prevalent. There are different types of cyberattacks, and they could hit us at any time. Therefore, knowing how to handle it is essential to protect your business, and here’s how.

Types of Cyberattacks

You have to know the types of cyberattacks before you can detect them or take action to eliminate them. Some common categories include:

  • Malware attacks
  • Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks
  • Distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
  • DNS pharming attacks
  • Cross-site scripting attacks
  • SQL injection attacks
  • Dictionary attacks
  • Birthday attacks
  • Rainbow table attacks
  • Social engineering attacks
  • Session hijacking attacks
  • Drive-by attacks
  • IP spoofing attacks
  • USB drop attacks
  • Juice jacking attacks
  • Watering hole attacks
  • And more…

This is a long list, right? We’ll explain them in the article that will be published later because we have to get to the main topic right away. For now, you can look them up on the web and try to figure them out.

Detecting a Cyberattack

Now, let’s explore how to detect a cyberattack. There are many things you can do in order to facilitate the process to find out if there’s a cyberattack and annihilate it as soon as possible.

You must install and update antimalware software on your computer and website. Because malware can wreak havoc behind the user interface and may not let the users notice the signs of an infection, you should almost always rely on the software to do its job and scan your computer and website at least once a day to detect new threats.

However, even antimalware software is not 100% foolproof. Some malware can escape detection from the antimalware software, and it might not detect cyberattacks that do not involve the presence of malware on the victim’s computer. Therefore, you should look for signs yourself, too. Here are the signs that your computer is subject to a cyberattack:

  • Your computer abruptly slows down significantly
  • Your computer seems to be manually controlled
  • Unrecognized popups appear
  • Antimalware messages about threats appear (whether they’re real or fake)
  • There was suspicious online activity on your device
  • Your files have been modified or encrypted unexpectedly
  • Your passwords don’t work

If a cyberattack hits your website, you might see one of these symptoms:

  • Your website’s appearance looks strange
  • Your website abruptly slows down significantly or fails to load at all
  • There are content on your website that your company didn’t create
  • There are search engine penalties on your website
  • Your website’s rankings have dropped
  • The number of visitors suddenly drops
  • You receive complaints from customers (from email or comments)
  • Files and databases have been modified or encrypted unexpectedly
  • You receive antimalware warnings about threats

If you observe any of the signs above, you should consider the possibility of a cyberattack immediately. However, if you think this only affects your computer, you should still do extensive checks to ensure the cyberattack didn’t strike your website or any other computer in your business.

Assuming that your company is successfully targeted by a cyberattack, here’s what to do to eliminate the threat.

Dealing with a Cyberattack

There are a few things your business should do as soon as possible in case a cyberattack strikes. That way, the harm to the reputation of your business, the financial loss, and the possibility that your company will get sued will decrease.

Prepare for Action

It might be tempting to jump right into action, but it’s essential to notify the cybersecurity team members that you should have already built. If they don’t know that a cyberattack has happened, they won’t be able to follow the instructions that your business has already established.

If necessary, you should have some experts in your team to make complicated decisions and conduct maneuvers so that the harm can be minimized quickly. The team of experts should consist of data forensics experts, data recovery experts, cybersecurity experts, and/or white-hat hackers, depending on the cyberattack. As an alternative, you can also find an organization that deals with cyberattacks online, but make sure it’s reputable and have received good reviews, and your company can deal with the attack as much as possible before the experts arrive.

Assess the Extent of the Cyberattack

Then, it’s essential to assess the extent of the attack. Is sensitive data stolen? If so, what kinds of data do the hackers have? Are critical systems compromised? Is malware installed on employees’ computers or servers? Can you visit your company’s website? What should customers do to protect themselves?

These are only part of the questions you should ask, and you should ask for more information depending on the situation. Remember to preserve evidence, and assign another group of team members (or experts) to contain the attack (or vice versa) while the damage is being assessed.

Notify Customers

After it’s clear what the users should do, you (or the one in charge of it) have to notify all the customers about what has happened immediately. The message should mention what types of data are being stolen, that the website is safe to visit or not, that the company is fixing the issue, and what the visitors should do (such as changing and strengthening their passwords immediately) to secure their accounts and information.

Keep in mind that you have nothing to hide about the cyberattack in this situation. Everything the user should know must be disclosed. If not, the user will not understand the full extent of the damage.

What should your company do to notify customers after a data breach?
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Contain the Cyberattack

At this point, it’s essential to contain the cyberattack. To prevent the cyberattack from spreading and damaging any additional components, you should:

  • Take your website down
  • Create full-system backups immediately
  • Disconnect all affected components and temporarily shut them down if necessary
  • Change all affected login credentials, such as passwords
  • Set up firewalls if you haven’t already to block suspicious traffic
  • Run reputable antimalware programs to scan and remove traces of malware
  • Follow the rest of your cyber incident response procedures
Recover From the Damage

After you’ve contained the cyberattack and notified customers, it’s time to recover from the damage. Since you will likely destroy evidence by changing malicious files, it’s better to check the integrity of full-system backups of the infected state since this will help experts investigate the cyberattack. If something goes wrong, you can also use the backup to prevent your company from getting back to square one.

Firstly, you have to restore or wipe any systems, including accounts used by servers and employees, that are contaminated with malware. This ensures that almost all traces of malware, including backdoors, can be truly removed. You could also consider purchasing new storage devices or computers in case you think malware might still linger after a complete system erase.

Secondly, you have to assess what data is lost and how you should restore it. If it’s data about the customers, notify them and tell them to take action to protect their accounts (if you haven’t done so already). Try restoring it through clean backups or in any other way available. Keep in mind that backups might be contaminated with malware. Therefore, you should scan them thoroughly before reintroducing the data back to the system, and always remember that the latest backup isn’t always the safest one when you encounter malware. If there is no way to restore the data, your company is, unfortunately, a victim of data loss, which will require content to be created again.

Thirdly, you will have to report the cyberattack to government agencies to help investigate the attack and reduce its adverse effects. IC3 (ic3.gov) is a great option and is recommended by the FBI.

After that, it’s important to invite professionals in your team to inspect the issue. They can make complex decisions and execute complicated procedures so that the threat of the cyberattack will be reduced more efficiently and quickly.

Also, if something goes wrong during the recovery process, you can always restore to the infected state through a full backup to start the process again. This might be redundant, but it is still better than losing all data forever.

Last but not least, you should change all affected passwords again. This might create a little more trouble, but it’s worth it because it invalidates the passwords that might be potentially found by malware to access your account.

Avoid Further Attacks

Now that you’ve confirmed that the cyberattack has been contained and its consequences have been minimized, and that your company is now operating properly, and that your website is now up and running, your company should take action to prevent further attacks from causing damage, for instance:

  • Strengthen passwords for all accounts for all employees
  • Find out what causes the cyberattack to succeed
  • Review and improve your cybersecurity policy
  • Consider training your employees to avoid falling victim to social engineering
  • Conduct extensive cybersecurity drills
  • Consider hiring white-hat hackers to find out vulnerabilities by attacking your systems
  • Set up and update firewalls
  • Manage data access levels adequately
  • Keep archives of your backups in different storage devices
  • Activate full-disk encryption on all devices for all employees
  • Maintain physical security
  • Purchase cyber insurance
  • And more…

This might take a little more budget than if you haven’t done so, but it’s worth it because a cyberattack can close a company. Throughout the recovery process, make sure your company complies with legal requirements as well.

Conclusion

Cyberattacks are everywhere. They are targeting everyone, including websites, servers, personal computers, and more. However, you can make those cyberattacks fail and handle it even if it succeeds if you have comprehensive procedures in place. Although this article contains more than 1500 words, it’s still better if your company has more to do in case the cyberattack is more complicated than you might think. If you think of some other precautions to deal with cyberattacks, please leave that in the comments below to improve our article.

References and Credits

  1. Jeff Melnick. (2018, May 15). Top 10 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://blog.netwrix.com/2018/05/15/top-10-most-common-types-of-cyber-attacks/
  2. (n.d.). Types of Cyber Attacks. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.fortinet.com/resources/cyberglossary/types-of-cyber-attacks
  3. Brian Jefferson. (2021, June 8). The 15 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.lepide.com/blog/the-15-most-common-types-of-cyber-attacks/
  4. (n.d.). Cyber Incident Reporting. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Cyber%20Incident%20Reporting%20United%20Message.pdf
  5. (2021, January 28). 7 Steps to Take During a Cyber Attack. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from https://wickr.com/7-steps-to-take-during-a-cyber-attack/
  6. Abdul Moiz. (n.d.). Preventing Cyber Attacks Through Efficient Cyber Resilience. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from https://blog.externetworks.com/preventing-cyber-attacks-through-efficient-cyber-resilience/
  7. (n.d.). Cyber Crime. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyber
  8. Mara Calvello. (2019, July 26). 7 Tips on How to Recover From a Cyber Attack. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from https://www.g2.com/articles/recover-from-a-cyber-attack
  9. Elliot Forsyth. (2018, August 15). Dealing with Cyber Attacks–Steps You Need to Know. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from https://www.nist.gov/blogs/manufacturing-innovation-blog/dealing-cyber-attacks-steps-you-need-know
  10. (2021, May 11). How to structure your recovery from a cyber attack. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from https://www.readinow.com/blog/how-to-structure-your-recovery-from-a-cyber-attack

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