A cyber-attack is an assault by hackers intended to compromise the functionality of a website or computer network, oftentimes employed in order to gain access to stored confidential information.
Installing viruses or malware (i.e., malicious code), interrupting the functionality of all, or part, of an online program, and changing a computer’s or phone’s hardware or software are all forms of cyber-attacks.
A small business looking to guard against the threat of cyber-attacks and protect is valuable proprietary information and business should take the following actions:
1. Maintain control over the applicable website’s (and the company’s) entire security chain:
The old adage “a chain is as strong as its weakest link” holds true for Internet security.
One weak link leaves a website, and the company that maintains it, open to attack. Perform network scans regularly in order to assess and fix all vulnerabilities.
Best practices include engaging dedicated personnel to handle the process.
A wealth of outside vendors are available to perform these services for a reasonable fee.
Quick Tip – Also, check Tips to Protect Business Reputation
2. Implement security and protection measures:
In order to ward off potential attacks, you should only grant computer access to those who absolutely require it to fulfill work related obligations.
Have any and all such individuals, be it employees or contractors, execute a data protection and confidentiality agreement.
Save executed copies indefinitely.
Passwords should be protected as well, hard to guess, and frequently changed.
Use data encryption and secure configurations wherever practically possible.
All computer network usage by employees, agents, and other third parties should be closely monitored on a regular basis.
Remote access should never be granted unless absolutely required to fulfill work duties.
Up to date anti-virus software should be loaded onto every computer in the network.
Regularly test the strength and efficacy of all security measures on a regular basis.
Monitor and manage all log files to detect, record, and maintain reports of any security incidents.
Develop and implement strong network security architecture and controls, including network segmentation, firewalls, intrusion detection services, and data loss prevention software.
Employ security by design principles in order to build security directly into all commonly used applications and systems.
You can also obtain cyber liability insurance in order to protect against financial loss in the event of any attack.
Make sure to adequate coverage amounts.
3. Involve law enforcement wherever possible upon detection of an attack:
Large cyber-attacks should be promptly reported to law enforcement in all applicable jurisdictions.
A company liason should be appointed to supervise the communications.
The following agencies are responsible for handling Internet crimes:
(i) the FBI;
(ii) the US Secret Service;
The Department of Justice provides information respecting the appropriate agency to contact depending upon the type of cybercrime being reported.
The primary statutes addressing cybercrime include:
(i) The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. § 1030, the main Federal criminal statute regulating computer crimes which criminalizes, among other things, accessing a computer or a computer network in access of one’s authorization;
(ii) The Wiretap Act and Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2510 et seq., a Federal statute which prohibits the interception, use, and/or disclosure of wire and electronic communications; and (iii) the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., a Federal statute which criminalizes the intentional, unauthorized access of a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided.
4. Additional actions to take following a cyber-attack:
When faced with evidence of a cyber-attack, big or small, make sure to preserve all evidence.
A failure to do so can adversely affect a civil or criminal action down the road.
Proper documentation also provides protection against counterclaims and regulatory investigations.
Additionally, make sure to have someone prepare and file all legally required disclosures on a timely basis.
For example, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires public companies to disclose certain data breaches, as does the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, among others.
Additional security testing should also be performed immediately in order to identify the locus of the breach and mitigate damages to the extent possible.
Inform proper personnel designated to handle any such attacks. Implement an effective incident response plan.
Consider engaging the services of an experienced cyber consultant, potentially on a full-time basis.
Additionally, a public relations expert may be helpful in order to communicate the attack to the public and confirm that the company is doing everything possible to mitigate damages and prevent future attacks of this nature.
The damage that could ensue after such an event could be disastrous to a company’s brand, image, and reputation.