Data Breach Investigation

Establish the motive, means and opportunity exploited to commit the attack

Data Breach Investigation Services

Has your organization incurred a data breach? If your answer is ‘yes, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to mitigate the potential damage, and one of the crucial things to do is have a data breach investigation carried out.

A data breach might seem counterproductive, seeing that such incidents tend to elicit an uncoordinated response from the IT staff. Still, an accurate understanding of the process is critical to the success of the incident response. A data breach investigation establishes the motive, means and opportunity exploited to commit the attack.

Your organization needs to approach data breaches the same way it would approach physical crime, and that is by initiating an investigation immediately, especially at the scene of the incident. In this instance, the location might be a computer or even a webpage.

How to investigate and respond to data breaches

No one wants to go through a data breach, but the threat must be neutralized when it happens. Data breaches must be investigated for this to happen, and the proper measures must be implemented to appropriately handle the threat. Here’s how data breach investigation is carried out:

1. Detection

The first step towards investigating and responding appropriately to a data breach is to identify deviations from normal operations in the system. This can be hard for most IT teams, so it often takes weeks before a data breach is discovered.

Once you spot something unusual in your network, it is a sign that all is not well, and you need to take action immediately. Investigation at this juncture should uncover the depth of the compromise, its source, and its success or failure rate.

Identifying a deviation from normal operations is not as straightforward as it seems on paper. There might be a review of log files often, and there are usually lots and lots of them. These files and error messages must be gathered from various sources (including intrusion detection systems) and thoroughly checked to spot any sign of a breach.

There are generally six levels of classifications of unusual activity, and the incident is likely to fall into any of the following:

  1. Unauthorized access
  2. Denial of services
  3. Malicious code
  4. Improper usage
  5. Scans/probes/attempted access
  6. Investigation incident

It’s also important to determine the severity of the attack to know whether or not it will disrupt internal systems or frontend services or whether sensitive data has been compromised.

2. Containment

Once you have flagged signs of an intrusion, the next thing is to contain the breach. The goal of containment is to limit the damage of the threat, so it doesn’t affect other systems and the organization at large. Hence, the compromised devices within the network are isolated from the rest of the network to halt the attack’s spread.

There are essentially two types of the containment strategy. The first is a longterm containment strategy, with the primary goal being to return all systems to production without the accounts and backdoors that cause the intrusion.

On the other hand, the short-term containment strategy prevents the threats from the further spread by executing an immediate response. The short-term strategy also includes the preservation of affected files and systems by backing them up for later investigation. It may also mean disconnecting systems from the internet.

Furthermore, it’s also important to confirm that there is still full control of vital aspects such as blocking unauthorized access, blocking dangerous IP and email addresses, or even the isolation of systems on the network, among others.

Businesses that have remote access protocols should have no trouble accessing their system and restoring normal business operations.

3. Eradication

If the measures taken were adequate, the containment should be successful. The next point of action is to search and eliminate the root cause of the breach. Eradication is intended to remove the malware or other artefacts introduced by the attacks and fully restore all affected systems.

In other words, this step is intended to eliminate the residual backdoor access in the network that the threat actor used to obtain access to the network to prevent similar reoccurrence.

Because this step cannot be undone, it is crucial to ensure that it only takes place after all external and internal actions are completed and documentation of everything that has happened before now. Documentation will help prepare for potential litigation and a cybersecurity insurance claim.

When it comes to eliminating threats, there are two aspects to it. The first is cleanup, which typically refers to the process of running your antivirus software, uninstalling the infected software, rebuilding the OS, or replacing the entire hard drive and reconstructing the network. The second is to notify relevant personnel above and below in the reporting chain.

4. Restoration

As the name indicates, this is the process of restoring the updated systems and devices into your business environment. The simple goal is to bring all systems and devices to full restoration after verifying that they are clean and free from threats.

Ideally, there are two steps to recovery, which includes:

  1. Service restoration, which is based on implementing corporate contingency plans
  2. System and/or network validation, testing, and certifying the system as operational

Although restoring systems is a positive sign that significant progress has been made thus far, it is important to be cautious and not rush the process. Continuous monitoring may need to be implemented to ensure that the breach has been fully handled and that there is no abnormal network activity.

It also helps to test all systems for possible vulnerability caused by the breach so appropriate measures can be taken to have it fixed.

5. Post-incident report

The final part of data breach investigation services is creating a postincident report that details all that stakeholders need to know about the threat. This is where everything is analyzed, and the information documented is pieced together to make sense.

A post incidence report typically includes lessons learned from the breach to ensure that there is no reoccurrence and that the network is strengthened to minimize the risk of future attempts succeeding.

Why Opt for DC Encompass Data Breach Investigation Services?

The reason for a data breach investigation is that the incident generally provides a lot of clues into why the attack was committed, how it was carried out, why it happened, and who was responsible for the breach. A cyber attack can cause huge damage to your organization, so you must leave no stone unturned in finding out everything about the attack.

At DC Encompass, we provide an end to end data breach investigation services that includes a total analysis of your systems and a detailed report on the right recommendations.

Generally our data breach investigation services includes detailed and expertlevel guidance on:
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How to recover back to business as usual

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Evaluating the extent of the breach

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Determining the likely impact and consequence

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Insights into the company’s risks

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Identifying the root cause of the breach

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Providing stakeholders with practical and technical recommendations to prevent the issue from reoccurring

We also carry out a forensic investigation solutions to provide the following results:
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Details of any forensic material identified and established to be relevant to the threat

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The extent of affected systems by the threat

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The most likely entry/root cause that attackers will likely exploit

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Highlights of the activities or movements of the threat in the network

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Tips and methods of effective containment

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Potential unauthorized or theft of data

For more information on our Data Breach Investigation solutions, contact our team today.

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