Ensuring effective incident detection & response for cyber security

Cyber Incident Response: Safeguarding Digital Assets & Ensuring Continuity

Cyber incidents can cause real harm to the United States’ national security, foreign relations, and economy. They can also impact public confidence, civil liberties, and the health and safety of the American people. Due to this danger, it’s crucial for all organizations and individuals to have clear plans for detecting, responding to, and preventing cyber incidents.

Cyber attacks are getting more complicated and harder to spot. CISA, by collaborating with different government levels and private businesses, understands the wide range of cyber weaknesses. They provide tools and resources to help accurately and effectively detect, respond to, and prevent cyber incidents.

Why is incident response important?

Studies indicate that experiencing critical security incidents is almost unavoidable due to the clever tactics of criminals and human errors by users. Responding to an attack in a reactive and disorganized manner can give malicious actors an advantage and increase the risk to the business. In the worst-case scenario, a significant security incident can lead to severe financial, operational, and reputational damage, potentially pushing an organization to the brink of closure. Therefore, having a proactive and organized response strategy is crucial for minimizing these risks and safeguarding the business.

hand, magnifying glass, earth, Detection and Analysis of Security Incidents

Detection and Analysis of Security Incidents

It’s essential to prioritize the security of your organization’s systems and data strong SOC services to prevent data breaches and cyberattacks. The initial step in this effort is to establish a strong security incident response plan. This plan should encompass the required tools and procedures for detecting and analyzing security incidents effectively.

Implementing Monitoring and Detection Tools

A highly effective method for detecting security incidents involves the implementation of monitoring and detection tools. These tools play a crucial role in minimizing the time it takes to identify incidents by promptly alerting your team about specific security-related events. Through continuous system monitoring, you gain the ability to detect and respond to any unusual activity before it escalates into a major issue.

Detection tools provide valuable assistance by conducting comprehensive analyses of the entire system. This proactive approach enables the identification of potential threats and weaknesses before they have the chance to cause significant problems.

Analyzing and Identifying Security Incidents

When something goes wrong with the security of your computer systems, it’s crucial to look into it and figure out how bad it is. Investigating these incidents is a very important part of the plan to deal with them in an organization. Checking the extent of the problem should be like looking at each part step by step, making sure you see everything that’s affected. This helps you know how big the problem is and what you need to do to fix it.

Even after you’ve managed to control the issue, the work doesn’t stop. Once you’ve sorted out the problem, it’s really important to look back and see how you can do things better next time. This helps you learn from what happened and makes sure the same problem doesn’t happen again.

Prioritizing Incidents Based on Severity

Not all security problems are the same. Some can be fixed quickly, while others need a lot of attention. In a plan for dealing with these issues, it’s important to sort and prioritize them based on how serious they are. This way, your team can focus on the most important problems first.

Having a clear way to classify these problems helps everyone on the team understand how serious each one is and what they should do about it. This avoids confusion and makes sure the team deals with problems as quickly as possible.

By using these tools and steps, your organization can get ready to find and handle security issues. This keeps your computer systems and information safe from cyberattacks, making sure your organization stays successful.

How a SOC detects and responds to security incidents.

Step 1 – Triage

At the forefront of the Security Operations Center (SOC) is Step 1 – Triage. Here, personnel swiftly assess incoming security incidents, determining their severity by identifying the source, understanding the scope, and assessing the impact. Step 1 personnel also initiate initial responses, containing incidents and escalating them to higher tiers when necessary. Security analysts, typically less experienced, focus on monitoring event logs for suspicious activity and escalate incidents to Step 2 upon detection.

Step 1 analysts, with less experience, form the primary line of defense in the SOC. They actively monitor event logs for potential threats and promptly escalate concerns to Step 2, playing a critical role in the early identification and management of security incidents.

In the SOC’s initial phase, Step 1 – Triage, personnel quickly evaluate incoming security incidents, pinpointing their severity by tracing the source, understanding the extent, and assessing the impact. Step 1 personnel, responsible for initial responses and escalation, include less experienced security analysts who diligently monitor event logs for suspicious activity, escalating incidents to Step 2 as needed.

Step 2 – Investigation

Investigation forms the second level in the Security Operations Center (SOC), known as Step 2. Personnel at Step 2 take on the task of examining security incidents and finding out why they happened. This involves looking at logs, network traffic, and other data sources to figure out where the incident originated. Step 2 personnel also play a role in creating detailed incident reports and offering suggestions on how to fix the issues.

Step 3 – Threat Hunting

Heading into the third level of the Security Operations Center (SOC), we encounter Threat Hunting at Step 3. Personnel in Step 3 take on the task of actively searching for potential threats and weaknesses in the organization’s setup. This involves closely examining logs, network traffic, and other data sources to pinpoint possible threats and vulnerabilities.

Step 3 personnel also play a role in creating detailed reports on threat intelligence and offering suggestions on how to fix any issues found. The most experienced analysts handle complex incident responses and, with any remaining time, delve into forensic and telemetry data to identify threats that may have slipped past detection software. Since a significant portion of analyst resources goes into Step 1 and Step 2, threat hunting activities typically receive less attention on average.

Real-life examples of successful incident responses.

Yahoo

In February 2022, a senior research scientist working at Yahoo, Qian Sang, took the company’s intellectual property only 45 minutes after getting a job offer from The Trade Desk, a competitor of Yahoo. About two weeks later, when Yahoo investigated the incident, they found out that this employee had downloaded 570,000 files from the company laptop to two personal external storage devices. Among the stolen files were the source code of AdLearn, Yahoo’s engine for real-time ad purchasing, and other materials from Yahoo’s Github repositories.

APT group

In 2017, the cybersecurity firm FireEye detected an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group named “APT32,” also recognized as OceanLotus, targeting organizations in Southeast Asia. This group employed advanced methods to avoid detection and infiltrate sensitive data. FireEye utilized threat intelligence to monitor the group’s actions and pinpoint its infrastructure to counter the threat. The investigation revealed that the group employed a mix of specially designed malware and readily available tools to execute their attacks.

T-Mobile

In January 2023, T-Mobile, a telecommunications provider, uncovered suspicious activity within its systems. It was revealed that a malicious user exploited one of the APIs in T-Mobile’s supply chain. From November 25, 2022, to January 5, 2023, the intruder managed to access and steal personal data from 37 million customer accounts. T-Mobile clarified that the stolen information did not include ID numbers, tax IDs, passwords, PINs, payment card details, or other financial data. Nevertheless, the incident still compromised customers’ billing addresses, emails, phone numbers, birth dates, and T-Mobile account numbers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it’s really important for companies to have a good plan for dealing with problems in their computer systems. This helps keep their digital stuff safe and their business running smoothly, especially when facing cyber issues. By understanding why it’s crucial to respond to incidents, learning about common ways to make a plan, and following the best methods to create and use a custom plan, companies can make their security better and handle cyber problems well. Always remember, the key to a good incident response is not just having a plan but also regularly checking, testing, and improving it to stay ahead of the always-changing problems.

Co Founder & COO of Digital Treed | Sales & Marketing Manager