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Strengthen your organisation’s defences through simulations and incident response readiness

In today’s ever evolving threat landscape, organisations must prioritise their cyber security preparedness to effectively combat the rising threat of cyber-attack. While traditional training methods have their merits, a more immersive and engaging approach is required to truly instil a culture of cyber security awareness across the business. Here, we will delve into the importance of incident response plans, scenario-based tabletops, and simulated events, shedding light on how they can empower organisations to proactively bolster their preparedness against the cyber security challenges we are all faced with today. 

Preparing your people
A crucial aspect of cyber security readiness is raising awareness among your people, after all, they are your first line of defence considering 90% of all attacks start with email-based phishing as the initial entry vector. One of the best ways we can build our ‘human firewall’ is through realistic phishing attack simulation, which involves the controlled delivery of mock phishing emails to employees, with the aim of testing their ability to identify and report such attacks.

Regularly exposing our people to the same level of social engineering that an attacker would target them with, serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it raises awareness amongst employees on the latest techniques used by attackers to exploit our weaknesses as humans, such as emotive emails designed to trick us into revealing sensitive information or playing on a sense of urgency to download and run a malicious attachment. By experiencing these simulated attacks in a controlled environment, employees can enhance their ability to identify these red flags and respond appropriately to real phishing attempts. 

Secondly, data from simulated phishing campaigns allow an organisation to better measure their employees’ susceptibility to these attacks, and in turn identify areas of the business where more focused training and awareness campaigns may be needed. Further to this, tracking this data over time will reveal insights into how well your security awareness program is performing, and allow you to track this as a Key Risk Indicator.

It’s important to stress to your people that phishing simulation is not about catching them out or leaving them feeling bad or uncomfortable. Instead, the focus should be on making each simulation an educational event, to prompt discussion, build team spirit, and to help better arm them with the right questions next time they are faced with a potentially malicious email.

Preparing your processes
Having addressed the importance of preparing your people for one of the most common attacks, let’s now shift our focus to building a solid foundation for your organisation’s incident response.

The speed and accuracy of the response to an incident can sometimes be the difference between a minor alert that is resolved quickly, versus a full-on major data breach. The incident response plan is a vital component of your preparedness strategy, providing a structured procedure for responding to cyber security incidents, and ensuring a coordinated and effective response.

A well-crafted incident response plan includes clear roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, escalation procedures, and specific actions for different incident types. It must also be developed in collaboration with other core areas of the business to ensure it captures organisational assets, working practices, and regulatory requirements from the perspective of other business units. Regular reviews and updates ensure the plan remains aligned with evolving threats and organisational changes.

The first time you put your incident response plan into action should not be during a real live incident. Relying solely on theory and assumptions is not enough to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. It is important to thoroughly test and validate your plan to identify any shortcomings or areas for improvement before a real event occurs.

Tabletop exercises to test your plans
Tabletop exercises provide a valuable opportunity to simulate a cyber security incident in a controlled manner. These exercises gather key stakeholders and decision-makers from around the business to walk through hypothetical scenarios and evaluate how you would respond. By conducting tabletop exercises, you can assess the effectiveness of your incident response plan, identify weaknesses, and refine your procedures and coordination among different teams.

Experiencing a cyber-attack can be a highly stressful and disorientating event that can lead to bad decision-making that hinders effective response efforts. Having a clearly documented incident response plan in place, along with regular training and simulation exercises, helps build familiarity and confidence that your people are equipped to make informed decisions even in high-pressure situations. Talk to Doherty Associates about cyber security readiness and how we can help you build your incident response plan and security awareness program to keep your business secure.

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