5 Things to Do Immediately After Your Startup Is the Victim of a Cyber Attack

Stats suggest that 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses and 60% of these attacks are encountered within the first 6 months of setting up a business. 

While the horrors of cyber attacks are known to everyone, getting such a fatal blow right when you are starting, can send your startup on a trip to Bermuda Triangle!

However, proper planning and having a reliable security strategy can help you bring back from the place of no return!

Here, we are going to discuss 5 things that you must do immediately after your startup is a victim of a cyberattack.

So, take a thorough read, and find out what it takes to get back on your feet right after a cyberattack as a startup owner. 

What Is a Cyberattack?

Cyber attack covers a lot of activities, such as phishing, data hijacking, domain hijacking, malware, viruses and denial of service. It is a computer-based criminal activity that targets your business and harms it in multiple ways.

Some of the common results of cyber attacks are:

  • Security breach

  • Data theft

  • Disabling the network

  • Cutting-off the business owners and customers from the website and other online counterparts of the business offerings

Understanding Different Types of Cyber Attacks

1) Phishing

In a phishing attack, the hackers attempt to obtain sensitive information about your business fraudulently via email. Phishing is a social engineering scam, where a communication, such as an email appears to be from a reputable source and the common goals of such attack are to steal sensitive information, such as account login or credit card information.

2) Malware

Malware refers to malicious software, such as worms, ransomware, viruses and spyware. This risky software gets installed on the system when you click on any malicious link or open a malicious attachment, and can:

  • Restrict or block access to the entire network or its components
  • Installs other harmful software
  • Disrupts certain system components
  • Keeps on accessing other data under disguise

3) Man-in-the-middle attack

Also called an eavesdropping attack, MitM or Man-in-the-middle attacks happen when the hackers get sandwiched between a two-party transaction. Once this happens, they can steal or filter data. Connecting to unsecured WiFi or malware are two common entry points for MitMn attacks.

4) Denial-of-service Attack

This attack floods the system servers or loads the networks with extreme traffic to exhaust the resources and system bandwidth to render it inaccessible for the users. Another severe form of this attack is DDoS or Distributed-denial-of-service attack.

5) SQL Injection

In this attack, a malicious code sequence is inserted into the system server (using SQL) to forcefully obtain confidential information. The attacker can simply submit a malicious code into the website search box and execute SQL queries.

6) Ransomware

Ransomware is malicious software by which the hacker blocks access to your system until the business owner pays a ransom or completes any other action cited by the hackers. 

5 Things You Should Do Right After a Security Breach

5 Things You Should Do Right After a Security Breach


1) Limit and Contain the Breach

Right after realizing that your startup has been attacked, the very first step that you must take is to limit the effect of the attack. Even if you have to take the website offline, you must contain the breach and prevent further spread. Now, locate the damage and determine the systems that were infected, compromised and safe from the attack.

If you are a non-technical start-up, you must seek expert help right away to avoid further damage and complete a thorough website or system audit. 

Some other steps in this phase include re-routing the traffic and avoiding the use of business communication channels.

 

2) Assess the Security Breach

Document the breach and start a thorough assessment that you record. If it was a mass attack, consult the other businesses under attack for updates. Figure out the source of the breach and tackle it under expert guidance to prevent similar attacks from happening in future. 

Some core actions in this phase include:

  • Assessment of company's employees
  • Server and network assessment
  • Finding the attack origin to zero-down the attack facilitator (if any)


3) Enable Your Incident Response Plan

Every business organization has an incident response plan that has step-wise information on what should be done once an incident has occurred. However, a majority of start-ups lack such plans in their business strategy.

Follow your incident response plan for taking the next course of action. Further, make necessary changes in the plan as per your learnings from the attack. 

On the other hand, if you don't have an incident response plan, you can now make one, with the help of cybersecurity experts. 

4) Report to Your Top Management

If you are running on funding, or you are not the business owner, you have to submit a proper report with due stats and other details to your top management. This will allow them to put things in action for preventing data theft and minimizing the harm done by the attack. 

5) Seek Help From the Security Experts

Finally, you must perform a thorough audit or get it done by some cybersecurity experts for getting an overall vision into your security posture. There are different types of audits for different types of situations. 

However, they allow you to identify the hidden Achille's Heel of your start-up and enable you to protect your business based on its weaknesses.

Also, test your incident response plan in routine as business processes and digital infrastructure can change over time and you have to keep on ensuring the overall system health at all times. 

So, we have discussed different types of attacks and actions that you have to take after your startup is under one of them. 

But, can a cyber attack be prevented? Let us find out!

Steps to Prevent Cyber Attacks Steps to Prevent Cyber Attacks

1) Set up Incident Response Plan

An incident response plan has instructions that help IT staff detect, respond and recover from cyber attacks or network security incidents. 

This plan comes in handy in multiple situations, such as:

  • Cybercrimes
  • Service outages
  • Data loss


2) Perform Regular VA and PT 

VA stands for vulnerability assessment and PT stands for pen-testing or penetration testing. VA allow you to identify the hidden vulnerabilities in your system or network that can be leveraged by an attacker to violate your security or data privacy. PT is done to check how reliable and robust is your current security posture.

Performing both VA and PT regularly keeps you informed of any issues or vulnerabilities that can escalate to threats and risks. Hence, you can take remedial actions well ahead of time, before an attacker can leverage them for malicious activities.

3) Choose the Right Security Vendor According to Your Needs

Running a start-up without any security provider is just like planting a garden without having a consistent source of water. 

Further, it is important to invest in a highly reliable and robust security provider that offers business-relevant services, like Appknox. It offers multiple vulnerability assessments and real-time DAST along with Pentesting to help you uncover vulnerabilities like a pro and keep the attacks at bay!

4) Cyber Train Your Employees on Security Protocols and Phishing

Train your employees about the correct web usage and tell them how "clicking with a thought" can help them steer clear of malicious links and apps. Educate them about the basic attacks such as phishing and ransomware and curb the problem right where the root is.

5) Backup Your Database

Always take data backups and keep them on a separate device and network. Maintaining this discretion allows you to keep the most recent copies of your company's data safe and ready for use in an emergency. Regularly update this data copy and allow extremely limited access to the same.


6) Hire CISO

CISO or Chief Information Security Officer has the following job responsibilities:

  • Establishing the right governance and security practices
  • Building a framework for secure and risk-free business operations 
  • Keeping the security posture update 
  • Managing the firm security with alacrity 

Hiring a CISO allows you to avail yourself of expert help for maintaining the safety of your business at all times. A CISO can also help you overcome a data breach or attack with much less damage.


7) Get Cyber Liability Insurance

Cyber Liability Insurance covers the cost incurred by a business to overcome a data breach, virus attack or any other incident of cybercrime. It also offers legal claims from the breach and is your reliable foothold once your business is under attack. 


8) Get Your Compliance and Regulations Tested

Compliance testing is also called conformance testing and audits the adherence of your business and its security posture to a policy or a security regulation. It helps you uncover and tackle the issues that can pose a regulatory risk to your business. 

How Much Safe Is the Safest: Compiling the Right and Robust Security Suite

With the number of cyberattacks on the rise and the number of security providers growing parallelly, it is very daunting for a startup owner to compile the right security cover. 

The best course of action for such business owners is:

  • Identify the current security pitfalls and vulnerabilities via audits 
  • Get expert help and create a security portfolio that fulfils the requirements at hand
  • Keep a regular eye on the security posture of your business
  • Add more layers of protection as your business scales

Finally, always be aware of what can bring your network or system down to its knees and have an action plan ready for any such situation. 

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Published on Dec 8, 2021
Harshit Agarwal
Written by Harshit Agarwal
Harshit Agarwal is co-founder and CEO of Appknox, a mobile security suite that helps Enterprises and Financial institutions to automate mobile security. Over the last 6 years, Harshit has worked with over 300+ businesses ranging from top financial institutions to Fortune 500 companies to set up security practices helping organisations secure their mobile applications and speed up the time for security testing.

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