7 Basic Steps to Identify a Data Breach

7 Basic Steps to Identify a Data Breach

Dec 05, 2021 / Ümit Çelik

One of the greatest threats against companies and public entities is a data breach. Data breaches lead to significant financial losses and pose serious issues in terms of corporate image. As these types of situations leave the companies facing a huge financial issue, in 2021, an average data breach causes a loss of $4.24 million. This was $3.86 million back in 2020.

Therefore, identifying a data breach is a fundamental step for a government agency or an enterprise to establish an enhanced cyber security network. When we look at enterprises with no comprehensive cyber security approaches that are suffering from a data breach, the issues such as customer loss, service downtimes and increase in costs of acquiring new customers due to loss of image consist 38% of total data breaches. This amounts to $1.59 million in 2021, and it shows that the loss is not limited to reliability and image.

Based on these data, we have compiled the things to do and the phases of investigation for identifying a data breach, as it is one of the most important aspects of cyber security.

What Does Data Breach Mean?

In its simplest form a data breach is the leak of a company's critical, sensitive and private data to unauthorized third parties or its seizure by cyber attackers. When a cyber attacker breaches your data security protocols and accesses your sensitive data, your corporate image may be tarnished, the continuity of your business model may be seriously debilitated and you may suffer significant financial losses.

In order to mitigate all these negative consequences, you are to investigate critical data breaches in detail. It is imperative to investigate the breaches that are the result of a cyber-attack or an internal threat action in order to; understand how your access security protocol was disabled, assess the damage and establish new action plans against possible cyber threats. As a statistical data regarding the value of proactive precautions prior to data breach; identifying and containing data breaches takes around 287 days and enterprises suffer approximately $4.87 million losses due to data breaches that continue for 200+ days.

On the other hand, you have to act quickly in order to minimize the damage caused by the data breach as a result of a cyber-attack. Delaying the investigation process will hurt your business model where every second is critical.

Meanwhile in an event of a data breach, you can make use of GDPR guides or if you would like to review the alternatives and learn more; you can take a look at the cyber incident intervention guides issued by SANS Institute and NIST and Microsoft Case Intervention Guide.

Let's take a look at the 7 steps that are accepted as the international standards in identifying a data breach, based on these guides.

7 Basic Steps to Identify a Data Breach

The causes behind a data breach may vary. However, there are 7 phases that you should follow for data security breaches.

1. Identify the Data Breach

The first step of the investigation of data breach is to determine the data breach. The identification step, indicating whether a data breach has occurred or not, consists of two components as specified by NIST. These two components, specified as leads and indicators, point to two different types of data breach.

The web server logs that indicate a search for security vulnerabilities within your corporate network, a security breach that affects the general network and an attack notification by a cyber attacker group are considered leads. Companies and enterprises rarely encounter leads and these leads make taking precautions an easy job.

An indicator specifies that a breach has been suffered or is in action. The common examples of indicators are e-mails having suspicious contents being returned, attempts of logging in from an unknown network and cache overflows against database servers.

2. Take Emergency Case Intervention Precautions

There are a few precautions that you should take at the moment you identify a data breach. First you have to record the date and time you identified the data breach. For the second step, the individual who identified the data breach must quickly report to the internal responsible parties. Then an access restriction should be imposed on these data in order to prevent dissemination of critical data that were leaked.

Furthermore, emergency case intervention precaution includes collecting all possible data regarding the leak, meeting with the individuals who recognized the data breach and doing a risk assessment.

3. Collect Evidence

It is imperative to collect evidence regarding the data breach. Act quickly and collect as much evidence as possible. In order to collect evidence, you may speak with the individuals who identified the critical data breach, you may check your cyber security tools and you may assess the data movements in your servers as well as network devices.

4. Analyze the Data Breach

After gathering data regarding the breach, you have to analyze the breach. Suspicious traffic, privileged access, duration of the threat, software and people involved with the breach, type of breach (internal and external threats) are the fundamental aspects of the analysis phase.

5. Take Restriction, Destruction and Recovery Precautions

Restriction is not only about the destruction of servers that were breached, but it is also imperative to prevent destruction of evidence to be used in the investigation. Destruction indicates destruction of all aspects that cause a breach. Recovery indicates recovering the breached servers to their former states.

6. Notify Stakeholders

Regardless of there being a legal obligation, all stakeholders affected by the breach and the law enforcement should be notified. These stakeholders may include employees, customers, investors, business partners and regulation authorities. For instance, in an event where you suffer a data breach in Turkey, as per PDPL (Personal Data Protection Law - KVKK) you have to notify PDPL authorities within 72 hours.

7. Focus on Post Breach Operations

After taking the required precautions against data breach, you have to analyze the breach and its consequences in detail and you have to create insights in order to prevent similar incidents in the future. In order to create these insights, it may be beneficial to review your cyber security network in detail.

Minimize Data Breaches with Privileged Access Management

A significant portion of data breaches are induced by seizing privileged accounts with privileged authorizations or internal threats which are over-authorized. The most efficient way to monitor these accounts and prevent data breaches are Privileged Access Management solutions. Privileged Access Management aka. PAM solutions offer full supervision over privileged account access data and ensure that you have full control over the movements within your IT infrastructure. PAM significantly streamlines your user data management as part of privileged access and is also very accomplished in terms of preventing data breaches from cyber attackers. The different modules within PAM solutions help reduce data breaches thanks to their varied functions and increase your efficiency by ensuring business continuity.

For instance, privileged session manager module allows you to manage all sessions within a network with no issues. This central solution module enables you to supervise all data of users with privileged access. Privileged Access Management platform is creating an extra protection layer thanks to applications such as dynamic password management module and allows you to create strong passwords for users in the corporate network. Furthermore, it stores all the passwords in isolation from the network thanks to its password vault feature and prevents password sharing.

On the other hand, two-factor authentication (2FA) module operate based on location and time and authenticate the location and time of all users that request access to areas where critical data are kept, and in turn elevate your supervision on the network to the next level. Or dynamic data masking may prevent any questions regarding the operations on the network by recording all sessions. Applications such as privileged task automation may automate routine tasks and reduce your workload and human capital to zero.

Being mentioned in the Omdia Universe: Selecting a Privileged Access Management Solution, 2021–22 report as one of the most advanced PAM solutions in the world, Single Connect solution includes all the mentioned PAM solutions above and enables you to create an end to end data and access security environment.

If you would like to learn more about identifying data breaches with Privileged Access Management and to discover more about Single Connect, please feel free to contact us.

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