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Peek-a-boo hackers! Strategies for effective incident response to data breaches

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By: Raj Sivaraju, President, APAC, Arete

The world is on the brink of a technological revolution, with AI and ML transforming every aspect of our lives. While this signifies technology’s potential, it also serves as a cautionary tale as organisations grapple with an increasing risk of data breaches and cyber incidents in today’s dynamic cyber ecosystem. Cyber threats have become a major concern for organisations across the board due to their potential negative impact on corporate bottom lines and reputations. The focus is establishing a secure, vigilant, and resilient cyber-response system. 

Therefore, there is a dire need to develope comprehensive incident response retainer solution. This will assist organisations to efficiently prepare, respond, and prevent data breaches. Further, it might present an effective roadmap to help businesses enhance their cyber infrastructure.

The need for incident response retainer

Today, companies of all sizes have prioritised cybersecurity as a crucial step given the rising number of incidents. Considering the Indian landscape, data breach incidents have surged to an average of over 120 per month with incident management costs averaging USD 0.5 million and an average business interruption of four days in the case of a ransomware attack. Given these concerning statistics, the importance of incident response preparation cannot be overstated. Here are some effective incident response strategies.

Preparation activities:

  1. Conducting a Risk Posture Assessment: Initiating an effective response plan begins with a comprehensive Risk Posture Assessment. The company’s cybersecurity resources, strengths, and vulnerabilities are evaluated as part of this process. Understanding the organisation’s risk landscape allows tailored strategies to fortify cyber defenses proactively.
  2. Performing a security assessment: A detailed security assessment should be conducted alongside the Risk Posture Assessment. This process involves thoroughly analysing the organisation’s systems, networks, and applications to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Swiftly addressing vulnerabilities can bolster overall security architecture and resilience against cyber risks.
  3. Providing timely threat advisory: Information and awareness are powerful tools in the rapidly changing realm of cyber incidents. Expert threat advisory services can keep organisations informed about developments in the field, enabling them to implement proactive measures.
  4. Designating an XDR Point of Contact (POC): Efficient communication during a cyber incident is paramount. Assigning a Point of Contact (POC) ensures swift and seamless communication throughout the incident response process, avoiding delays, and diffusion of responsibility.
  5. Creating a security roadmap for implementation: Organisations should develop a comprehensive security roadmap that aligns IT, business, and communication processes to enhance cyber resilience.

Recovery & response activities:

  1. Executing a well-coordinated Incident Response Plan: In the event of a breach, speed is crucial. Implementing a well-coordinated response plan tailored to the specific incident is essential for effectively containing and managing the breach.
  2. Facilitating incident containment: Swift containment of a cyber incident is vital to prevent further damage and minimise its impact. The priority at this stage is to prevent the breach from spreading to other systems.
  3. Ensuring business operations restoration: A cyber incident can disrupt regular business operations, resulting in downtime and financial losses. Efforts should focus on promptly restoring business operations and minimising incident-related costs.
  4. Conducting forensics analysis: After the incident, experts should analyse the extent and implications of the damage. This analysis informs the response strategy moving forward.
  5. Offering threat actor negotiation support: In some cases, engaging with threat actors might be necessary to resolve the incident. Employing threat actor negotiation support becomes imperative in such scenarios, as these experts guide effective communication to increase the chances of data recovery.
  6. Providing a detailed incident report: A comprehensive incident report should be filed once the threat has been mitigated. This post-incident analysis offers essential insights into the underlying causes, enabling organisations to strengthen defenses and avoid future incidents.

Post-incident activities:

  1. Lessons learnt from incidents: Valuable insights can be gained from an incident. Understanding the lessons and implementing improvements can prevent future incidents and enhance the effectiveness of response strategies.
  2. Monitoring the dark web for potential data exposure: Threat actors often trade stolen data on the dark web. Monitoring this space helps identify potential avenues of data exposure.
  3. Conducting CIS Controls Assessment: A thorough CIS Controls Assessment should be undertaken to enhance cybersecurity measures further. Aligning with industry best practices and standards can improve cyber resilience.
  4. Generating Periodic Security Posture Reports and Management Reports: Organisations require Periodic Security Posture Reports and Management Reports to maintain insights into cybersecurity readiness. These reports enable informed decision-making and continuous improvement in cybersecurity measures.


An effective incident response team is vital in protecting an organisation’s interests and shielding it from the risks of loss and reputational damage. This process involves intricate steps and procedures covering all endpoints, necessitating expert assistance. It’s important to recognise that in today’s world, cybersecurity is an investment, not an expense.

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