When companies are targeted by cybercriminals, it is essential that they have plans in place in order to deal with this and enable themselves to get back online rapidly. This not only applies to internal systems but also to public perception as well — clients want to know that companies can deal with data breaches effectively. The way that security incidents are dealt with will have a significant impact on companies' reputation and standing within their industry.

Yet many businesses struggle to adopt the best strategy for dealing with data theft. Thus, standards put in place by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) are particularly helpful, as they effectively provide an excellent outline for drafting a suitable response plan for data breaches and cybersecurity problems. NIST's Five Functions provide a basis for crafting a holistic cyber defense program.


NIST firstly suggests that it is critical for an organization to understand cybersecurity risks to its assets. Cybercrime attempts target systems, people, data, and capabilities, meaning that any approach to defending company assets must be wide-ranging.

Recognizing critical functions within a business and properly commanding the resources that support these functions should be considered essential. This will enable the company to prioritize efforts effectively, and craft a strategy that is consistent with existing risk management and business needs.


The second aspect that NIST points to is protection, with all businesses needing to put satisfactory safeguards in place in order to deal with cybersecurity incidents. This will then enable the company to contain the impact of a potential cybersecurity event.

In order to achieve this, extensive education and empowerment of staff members within an organization should be undertaken, enabling them to identify risks and establish procedures that focus on network security and assets. Investing in cyber liability insurance is also advisable, as this will protect the company financially in the event of a cyber attack.


Detecting cyber attacks rapidly is obviously essential, as this will enable any response to problems to be as efficient as possible. In order to respond to cyber attacks speedily, it is essential for companies to implement data classification, asset management and risk management protocols, which sound the alerts when any compromise of data occurs.


This facet of the NIST plan relates to the response mechanisms that should be put in place following the detection of a cybersecurity threat. This is critical in shaping the outcome of any data breach and should include proper and thorough communication with staff, shareholders, partners, clients, and other stakeholders.

One interesting facet of the NIST outline that is often overlooked by businesses is the importance of keeping in touch with law enforcement and legal counsel. This can make all the difference in the long run.


NIST also outlines how organizations can maintain their plans for recovery, and restore capabilities and services rapidly, naturally a key aspect of any cybersecurity response.

Considering this outline, it is surprising that many organizations do not have adequate incident response systems in place. Yet many companies fail to think about the consequences of data breaches until it's far too late. A recent survey of IT professionals indicated that over one-quarter of them were not confident in their organization's security response plan. Considering the wealth and breadth of cyber attacks, this leaves many businesses potentially vulnerable.

In fact, data breaches and cyber attacks are an almost inevitable part of contemporary business. As the threat landscape continues to evolve rapidly, it means that keeping on top of cybersecurity is more challenging than at any other point in history. If you don't have actionable and well-documented strategies and procedures in place, the cost to your organization can be massive.

Data Accounting

In this context, it is critical to ensure that your data is fully cataloged and accounted for at all times, as this will make it far easier to formulate logical investigation plans. If you cannot identify precisely where important data is located, the cost of rectifying any data beach problems will multiply rapidly.

Logging files are of critical importance in this regard, as performing an investigation without possessing them will be a logistically difficult task. Again, the amount of time required to get systems back online without logging files will increase massively, and the expenses associated with this will similarly multiply. Time is definitely money in this regard.

It's important to understand that most breaches occur well before evidence of the breach surfaces, meaning that keeping logs for several months is absolutely essential. Getting your system back online will involve pouring through vast amounts of data, and looking at this as effectively and accurately as possible will make this process somewhat more soluble.

Legal Issues

Companies also benefit from hiring legal professionals that are particularly trained in dealing with the cybersecurity incidents, and even PR professionals. Communicating a strong message to the public and potential clients should be considered essential, as any data breach understandably causes consternation among potential customers. You need to convey consistent and strong messaging if people are to trust your brand going forward following any form of cyber attack.

Another facet of dealing with data breaches is to install a sturdy VPN system with your company network. Not only will this make it more difficult to steal data, but it will also assist with encryption should the worst indeed occur. Looking at any Avast review will indicate just how valuable VPN can be in a business environment, and it could be the difference between suffering an expensive data breach and being able to eliminate the threat completely.

Cybercrime has become a vast underground industry, and this means that dealing with threats to your internal systems requires due diligence and consideration. Responding to cyber attacks swiftly can be the difference between commercial viability going forward and your business collapsing.

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