​​Need help? Call Us: (805) 505-7375                  Check Novesh's Event Calendar for our Exciting Cybersecurity Workshops at Thousand Oaks City Hall.         

Navigating the Aftermath of a Cyberattack

March 28, 2024 by
Navigating the Aftermath of a Cyberattack
Reza Abdolee

Cyber threats are an ever-present danger in today's digital landscape, posing significant risks to small businesses. Small businesses, often limited in resources and cybersecurity infrastructure, are particularly vulnerable. The fallout from a cyberattack can be devastating, impacting operations, customer trust, and financial damages. This guide is designed to navigate small businesses through the critical steps following a cyberattack, focusing on immediate actions, understanding regulatory mandates, and knowing which government bodies to contact.

I. Actions after a Cyberattack

Understanding the sequence of actions to take following an attack, the legal and regulatory implications, and the appropriate channels for reporting and seeking assistance is crucial for reducing the cost, effective recovery, and prevention of future incidents.

  1. Immediate Containment The first line of defense following a cyberattack is containment. Isolate affected systems to prevent the spread. Disconnect them from the internet and segregate any infected devices from your network. This crucial step limits the attack's impact and buys you time to assess and strategize your response.
  2. Thorough Assessment Understanding the scope of the breach is imperative. Determine which systems, data, or services have been compromised. Identifying the entry point of the attack is also crucial, as it provides insights into vulnerabilities within your network.
  3. Eradication of Threats With a clear understanding of the breach, proceed to remove any malware or malicious code from your systems. This might require professional cybersecurity assistance, employing antivirus software, or utilizing specialized malware removal tools.
  4. Recovery and Restoration Begin the process of restoring your systems and data from backups. It's essential to ensure that these backups are clean and haven't been compromised before reintegrating them into your network.
  5. Notification Protocol Transparency is key in the wake of a cyberattack. Notify all relevant stakeholders, including customers, employees, and suppliers. Depending on the severity, legal authorities may need to be informed. Adhering to data breach notification laws is non-negotiable.
  6. Investigation and Analysis A thorough investigation will shed light on how the breach occurred and help in formulating strategies to prevent future incidents. This step often involves reviewing logs, employing forensic analysis, and potentially enlisting external cybersecurity experts.
  7. Strengthening Defenses Use the insights gained from the investigation to reinforce your cybersecurity measures. Update your security policies, response strategies, and technologies to better protect against future threats.
  8. Compliance with Legal and Regulatory Standards Ensure your response aligns with legal and regulatory requirements. This includes reporting the breach to appropriate government bodies and industry regulators as required. For instance, for PCI-DSS standard, while it does not directly issue fines or penalties, non-compliance can have significant financial consequences in the event of a data breach involving payment card information. The fines are levied by payment card brands (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) and can be imposed on acquiring banks, which typically pass these costs down to the merchant. Penalties can vary but may include fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per month until compliance is verified. Additionally, businesses may face increased transaction fees or even the termination of their ability to accept payment cards. The severity of these penalties underscores the importance of maintaining PCI-DSS compliance to protect cardholder data and avoid financial and reputational damage.
  9. Clear Communication Maintain open lines of communication with all stakeholders throughout the recovery process. Honesty regarding the incident's nature and your remediation efforts helps preserve trust and confidence.
  10. Cyber Insurance Considerations For businesses with cyber insurance, initiate the claim process promptly. Your insurer can provide additional resources and support to navigate the aftermath of the attack.
  11. Government Body Needs To Be Contacted In the United States, the specific government body to be contacted after a cyberattack can vary depending on the nature of the attack, the type of data involved, and the industry of the affected organization. Here are some key agencies and bodies that might be relevant:
  • FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation): For significant cyberattacks, especially those involving criminal activity such as data theft or ransomware, the FBI's Cyber Division can be contacted. They have field offices across the country.
  • CISA (Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency): Part of the Department of Homeland Security, CISA provides assistance for cyber incident response and can be a vital resource for public and private sector entities experiencing cyber threats.
  • FTC (Federal Trade Commission): If consumer data is compromised, reporting to the FTC may be necessary, especially for violations of consumer protection laws or regulations.
  • SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission): Publicly traded companies may need to report cybersecurity incidents to the SEC, particularly if the incident could be considered a material event affecting investors.
  • HHS (Department of Health and Human Services): For healthcare organizations covered under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the HHS Office for Civil Rights requires notification of breaches involving protected health information (PHI).
  • State-level agencies: Many states have their own requirements for reporting cyber incidents, especially concerning breaches of personal information. State Attorneys General or specific cybersecurity agencies may need to be notified according to state laws.
  • IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center): Operated by the FBI, the IC3 is a platform for reporting cybercrime to federal law enforcement for investigation.
  • NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology): While not a reporting body, NIST provides guidelines and frameworks for cybersecurity response and recovery, which can be valuable in the aftermath of an attack.
II. Cybersecurity Standards and Compliance

While no exhaustive list covers all cybersecurity standards due to the vast and evolving nature of the field, several key standards have a significant impact on organizations, especially in the aftermath of a cyberattack. Here’s an overview of major cybersecurity standards and their impact on victims of cyber incidents:

  1. NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF): The National Institute of Standards and Technology's framework is widely recognized and utilized across various industries. It offers a comprehensive set of guidelines for managing and reducing cybersecurity risk. For victims of cyberattacks, adhering to the NIST CSF can facilitate a more structured and effective response by following its core functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. This framework helps organizations assess the impact of attacks, implement effective recovery strategies, and improve resilience against future threats.
  2. ISO/IEC 27001: This international standard specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an information security management system (ISMS). For organizations affected by cyberattacks, ISO/IEC 27001 provides a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information, ensuring it remains secure. Compliance with this standard helps in minimizing the risk of breach recurrence and demonstrates to stakeholders that the organization is serious about information security.
  3. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Though GDPR is a regulation rather than a voluntary standard, it has set a high bar for data protection and privacy, impacting organizations worldwide. For victims of cyberattacks, GDPR compliance is critical; it mandates prompt breach notification, within 72 hours of becoming aware, to the relevant supervisory authority if the breach poses a risk to individuals’ rights and freedoms. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines, making understanding and adherence to GDPR crucial for affected organizations.
  4. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): HIPAA is essential for organizations in the healthcare sector, focusing on the protection of patient health information. Victims of cyberattacks must navigate HIPAA’s Breach Notification Rule, which requires covered entities to notify affected individuals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and, in some cases, the media about a breach of unsecured protected health information. Compliance ensures that patient information is safeguarded throughout the incident response process.
  5. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS): PCI-DSS applies to all entities involved in payment card processing, including merchants, processors, acquirers, issuers, and service providers. For businesses suffering a data breach, PCI-DSS outlines specific post-attack actions, including immediate breach containment, cardholder data protection measures, and reporting the incident to payment brands. Compliance helps in quickly restoring secure payment environments and maintaining customer trust.
  6. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): The CCPA provides California residents with specific rights regarding their personal information and imposes obligations on businesses regarding the collection, use, and protection of personal information. For organizations affected by a cyberattack, CCPA compliance is crucial, as the regulation mandates timely notification to consumers if their personal information is compromised in a breach. Moreover, CCPA grants consumers the right to seek damages for unauthorized access to, theft, or disclosure of their personal information, emphasizing the need for stringent cybersecurity measures and incident response strategies to minimize legal and financial repercussions.
What Novesh can do to help?

Understanding that technology plays a crucial role in cybersecurity defense, Novesh aids in selecting and managing the appropriate cybersecurity technologies. From firewalls and anti-malware tools to advanced threat detection systems, we ensure that your technical defenses are robust, effective, and integrated seamlessly into your operations.

NOVESH’s dedication to enhancing compliance and strengthening cybersecurity frameworks empowers our customers to focus on their core business activities with the confidence that their cyber defenses are proactive, compliant, and resilient. Our approach is designed to prevent cyberattacks and their potentially devastating consequences, ensuring that your organization is well-prepared to navigate the complexities of the digital age securely.

Share this post