SRM Blog

Why is a Business Continuity Plan important?

Why is a Business Continuity Plan important? It’s simple: because a business’ ability to recover from a cyber breach hinges on its ability to react quickly. Since the enactment of GDPR earlier this year, it is now a statutory requirement that a breach is reported within 72 hours of its discovery. But this is not the only thing to consider. As soon as a breach is identified, certain steps need to be taken to contain and mitigate the extent of the breach to safeguard the future of the business. This process will run much more smoothly if all aspects of the strategy are well known to those responsible and have been pre-planned and pre-agreed.

The impact of a breach is often significantly wider than people first think. It is not necessarily just about money or data being stolen, or the fines imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as a result, but about the longer-term impact. Loss of trust and reputation can be equally, if not more, damaging over the following months and years.

So, with the threat of a successful (and costly) cyberattack being very real, what can be done? Well, firstly, and perhaps counter-intuitively, the most important thing is to accept the risk and plan for a worst-case scenario. Every robust defence should therefore include a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) which includes Incident Response (IR) and Disaster Recovery (DR) plans. These plans should be continually challenged and reviewed, and correctly-scoped simulation exercises will ensure that all key personnel are experienced in the steps that need to be taken.

However, this is just one piece of the business continuity puzzle. Evaluating your company’s ability to restore IT operations can be a good starting point for company-wide Business Continuity Plan. In fact, many business continuity planning efforts start by conducting a business impact analysis or risk assessment. These studies can reveal weaknesses in your organisation’s ability to continue operations that go far beyond IT. Good business continuity and disaster recovery planning should look at the business as a whole, with a goal to develop business resilience.

Of course, for most businesses in 2018, having a robust cyber defence is the first step and every precaution should be taken to ensure that potential hackers and cyber criminals are kept at bay. It seems reasonable to assume that the harder we make it, the less likely a hacker is to focus their attention on us. They will look to easier targets. But the sad truth about today’s digital environment is that breaches can and do occur, even to the best-defended organisations. After all, it can only take one employee to mistakenly open a phishing email to provide a potential hacker with a route in to an otherwise well-protected system.

Why is a Business Continuity plan important? Because speed is of the essence. The more quickly a breach can be identified and contained the less damage it will cause.

To discuss Business Continuity planning, contact the SRM team on 03450 21 21 51

To receive regular blogs on topics relating to information security, follow us on Linkedin.

To find out more visit our website.

Or read more:

Cyber insurance may be null and void without ‘due care’

Cyber resilience: it’s a board level issue

The key to GDPR is common sense

 

Pen testing: why businesses need to be proactive not reactive ahead of the peak retail period

A breach at any time of the year is bad for business. But with the highest volume of sales – both retail and online – occurring between Black Friday and the January Sales, a customer data breach during this period could be catastrophic. With just a few weeks to go, it is time to be proactive, not reactive.  Seeking external professional services at this stage could ultimately save immense damage to your business, your bottom line and your reputation.

First, some context. According to research (Carbon Black 2018), when it comes to cybercrime the most proactive investors are actually the cyber criminals themselves. It is estimated that they are now spending ten times more on finding cyber defence weaknesses in target organisations than the organisations themselves are spending on protecting against attack. Although the figures are global, with an estimated $1 trillion being spent by the cybercrime community compared to $96 billion by organisations to secure themselves, the UK has been identified as a major target.

Malicious attacks are therefore a very real threat, whether dealing with card transactions through a bricks-and-mortar shop or an online business. Unfortunately compliance does not guarantee security of your network systems. Like an MOT it only demonstrates that at a certain date and time your business had met the PCI DSS compliance standard. Similarly, businesses which have taken positive steps towards adhering to the requirements of GDPR will still need to take a proactive approach to defending against cybercrime.

So, what can be done? The most important investment at this stage is in professional penetration testing. This is the key to knowing exactly where potential vulnerabilities may lie. A bespoke combination of both manual and automated testing is an extremely efficient way to identify weaknesses and can be carried out with minimal disruption. If serious gaps are identified then further testing will exploit and develop these as a potential hacker would, providing you with valuable intelligence. You will then be in a position to work with experts to take whatever remedial action is required in good time. If actual (as yet undetected) breaches have already occurred, these can be reported on and contained before significant damage occurs.

While prudent investment in cyber security is vital, there is, however, no need to throw money at the problem. Engaging a professional consultancy with the full range of services will save you any unnecessary expense. This is because the exercise will be scoped to ensure you pay for what you need, not what you don’t. A professional team will also have the expertise to manage the whole process in a proactive way to ensure you are ready for business at the end of November.

Although every precaution should be taken to protect your systems, test and exercise is not the only important element of a mature and robust cyber defence.  Business Continuity Planning, Incident Response and Disaster Recovery Plans should also be in place and watertight. An expert consultancy will be able to help develop these so that business interruption in the event of a breach is kept to an absolute minimum. Additionally, SRM can provide Red Teaming and Incident Simulation activities to give you ultimate peace of mind

To discuss the full availability of our Test and Exercise and Incident Response services, call +44 (0) 3450 21 21 51.

To receive regular blogs on topics relating to information security, follow us on Linkedin.

Or visit our blog:

Pen testing: seeing both the wood and the trees

Penetration testing: man vs machine

 

 

Why get ISO27001 certification?

We are sometimes asked the question, why get ISO27001 certification? The answer is that the ISO standard, and ISO 27001 compliance in particular, demonstrates that your organisation takes information security seriously. This ultimately enhances your reputation and delivers greater business opportunities because ISO27001 lowers the risk for other people of doing business with you.

Certification means a third party accredited independent auditor has performed an assessment of all processes and controls and confirms that operations are in alignment with the comprehensive ISO27001 certification standard. If a company is implementing ISO27001, it demonstrates that careful consideration has been given to what could endanger confidentiality, integrity and the availability of information. Once those risks are known, it is about ensuring that security measures have been implemented in order to decrease them to an acceptable level.

Another benefit of this certification is that, unlike GDPR, which does not have an actual compliance process, ISO27001 provides very clear direction. In this way it can be a useful starting point for ongoing adherence to GDPR. ISO27001 concentrates on policies and processes, including all legal, physical and technical controls involved in an organisation’s information risk management processes. Its value is that it creates a robust environment to protect both staff and customer information assets. But of equal value is the fact that it also provides evidence to potential customers and partner organisations that your company prioritises the security of the information it holds.

Of course, undertaking compliance with ISO27001 can be a rather intimidating prospect.  The ISO standards require risk assessments to be conducted, together with the design and implementation of a comprehensive suite of information security controls. It also requires other forms of risk management to address company and architecture security risks on an ongoing basis. This involves the implementation of any necessary changes to policies and processes (ISO27001) and controls (ISO27002). A cost-effective way to negotiate the rigours of the ISO27001 accreditation process is to seek professional help from specialists with proven track record in achieving the standard.

If you are wondering ‘why get ISO27001 certification?’ you should discuss your requirements with us. The SRM team are experienced in all aspects of ISO27001 accreditation. Starting with a gap analysis which establishes a level of security readiness, we can recommend a prioritised remediation plan based on what gaps there are. We are able to assist with any activities that need to be undertaken and provide guidance all the way up to a pre-audit assessment. Finally, our team can offer on-site audit support if needed, to give you complete peace of mind that your organisation’s ISO 27001 accreditation is achieved and maintained.

To discuss ISO27001 or other certifications, contact the SRM team on 03450 21 21 51.

To receive regular blogs on topics relating to information security, follow us on Linkedin.

To find out more visit our website.

Or read more:

The NIS Directive: who does it apply to and what will it mean?

Cyber resilience: it’s a board level issue

Protecting your cyber soul

By Tom Fairfax, Managing Director

If you were asked to sell your soul to a stranger…. what price would you ask?

The ancient Egyptians believed that a person’s soul had multiple parts, ranging from the spiritual to the physical; the bit they hadn’t discovered was the digital component.  Regardless of one’s personal belief, each of us carries a very real and hugely valuable intangible asset in the form of our personal identity and the information that forms part of it.  This asset is incredibly vulnerable in the cyber environment and once compromised is effectively irretrievable.  Think of this as our cyber soul. It contains our very digital essence, our unique identity, our access to our resources and secrets, and represents the means to impersonate us or take control of parts of our life, our possessions or our good name and reputation.

The environment we call cyberspace represents a complex web of connected technology sharing information with and without human interaction.   This environment is inaccessible to our naked senses; we cannot see, hear or feel in it without assistance.  Critically, it is contested, and is populated by a global population of strangers, many of whom are explicitly seeking to compromise us.  It is to this environment that we expose our cyber souls.  The only question is – what protection or consideration do we give our valuable information assets before publishing them into the wild?

We are asked to share parts of our cyber souls on a daily basis.  A myriad of commercial, official and social platforms request and sometimes require information.  Some we hope we can trust – and in some cases we need to make a risk-based decision. But how much thought do you give before deciding what information to share and with whom you entrust this sliver of your essence?  A brief glance at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) enforcement page is instructive and shows that no organisation can be assumed to be safe.  A brief perusal of the causes of breach shows that breaches are not confined to failures of technology but often result from individual and collective human frailty.  This is not new.

This raises another, possibly more important question. How much explicit effort do you spend on protecting the personal information that other people and businesses entrust to you?  The ICO website shows a number of instances where something as seemingly innocent as a breach of email etiquette has resulted in the exposure of personal information, and a direct, if inadvertent compromise of people’s  sensitive information.  Fines and sanctions are damaging, but we must not forget the fundamental breach of trust.

Information Security and data protection are disciplines that enable us to protect our own cyber souls and those with which we have been entrusted by others.  They are still seen by many as an administrative irritation but they are a fundamental part of our personal responsibility as members of society.   No-one can guarantee that they will be 100 per cent safe; indeed such a claim is a good indication that the problem has not been understood.

We can, however, exert a degree of critical judgement on every occasion that we are asked to share parts of our soul.  Trust should not be assumed.

Why the prioritisation of breach identification and containment are crucial elements of every cyber defence strategy

One of the most significant elements of the current cyber threat landscape is the amount of time it takes to actually detect and contain a breach. In a study published last year by IBM security and the Ponemon Institute, the Mean Time to Identify (MTTI) and Mean Time to Contain (MTTC) metrics were used to assess the effectiveness of an organisation’s incident response and containment processes. The research found that it took an average of 168 days to identify a data breach and 67 days to contain it.

The key problem is that in today’s climate few attacks are aimed solely on an organisation’s external defences. This is because, with data security legislation at the strongest it has ever been, external defences like firewalls and network security are usually reasonably robust. So cyber criminals use more subtle tactics, exploiting human error. If an employee opens a malware-laden phishing email or some deceptive social engineering has enabled an attacker to infiltrate malicious codes, the effects may not be evident for some time. This gives malicious attackers the opportunity to explore and exploit the system from within, delivering even more devastating consequences over time.

Given that the current MTTI metrics show that breaches can remain undetected for an average of five and a half months, this provides hackers with ample time to develop their strategy and exploit the weaknesses they detect. So although it will always be necessary to have robust external defences in place, organisations would do well to push the identification of attacks further up the priority list.

The other issue is, of course, containment. The current MTTC metrics show that the average breach, once identified, takes over two months to be contained. The reputational and financial implications of this delay cannot be underestimated.

While building both an external and internal defence is a priority, making detailed plans for how to handle a crisis is equally important. It is perhaps counter-intuitive to plan for a successful attack, but the maxim ‘expect the best but plan for the worst’ is sound advice. Knowing how to react in the unfortunate event of a data breach is a crucial business benefit. An experienced Retained Forensics company will be able to assist you with your plans and help to get everyone into the right mind-set. If the worst does happen, then staff will have a framework to refer to, ensuring that vital steps are taken, and valuable time is not lost.

At SRM, our consultants use their vast expertise to proactively protect systems before an attack occurs. Working with a Retained Forensics specialist facilitates a strategic approach; from analysing potential weaknesses, to making detailed plans in the event of a breach. This is done in a number of ways, including through the process of Test and Exercise, starting with automated penetration testing to identify potential internal vulnerabilities. Manual testing is then employed to exploit and develop these weaknesses, so the gaps can be plugged. The synergy of these tests provides valuable intelligence about where existing vulnerabilities lie, including the human element, and helps a business to build an agile defence around them.

 

To find out more about SRM’s Retained Forensics and Incident Response services contact Mark Nordstrom on 03450 21 21 51 or mark.nordstrom@srm-solutions.com

To receive notification of other blogs relating to issues in the world of information security, follow us on Linkedin.

Or read more from our blog:

Retained Forensic & Incident Response Service: how planning for the worst can add value to your business

Three stages to building a robust defence against external threats

Cyber insurance may be null and void with ‘due care’

Pen testing: seeing both the wood and the trees

SRM Blog