Ask any experienced network security expert and they will agree on the importance of having a strong, secure Incident Response Plan to safeguard an organization. After all, no security system is 100% foolproof and there is no guarantee that a breach will not happen. Hence, it is in this case that an incident response plan helps in ensuring that any unlikely breaches are handled in a structured way and do not occur again. This stops organizations from panicking. A good Incident Response Plan will possess the following:
- Scope and objective
- Contacts and responsibilities
- A notification process
- Emergency actions
- Incident closure
In recent days, more and more organizations are waking up to the fact that their Incident Response Plans can be made stronger by simulated, cyber war games. Gaps can be discovered in the incident response, allowing key stakeholders to prepare for worse-case scenarios.
What are Cyber War Games?
In a nutshell, cyber war games immerse participants in an interactive exercise where a cybersecurity threat is simulated. These scenarios can be of any type, a data breach, a denial of service attack, malware, etc. In fact, the idea is not new – armed forces of different countries routinely conduct war games to test their capabilities and plug any gaps they might have in their systems. However, it is only recently that organizations have to decide to take this initiative into the cyber arena.
In 2013, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), a industry trade group in the US, held a simulation of a cyber attack which was called “Quantum Dawn”. In their words, it was aimed “to test incident response, resolution and coordination processes for the financial services sector and the individual members to a street-wide cyber attack”. The exercise raised awareness among the participants about the importance of coordination and working together to address risk issues.
Importantly, cyber war games can bring out the vulnerabilities of an organization’s defense system by addressing some major issues:
- Identification and assessment: How would an organization identify and respond to an attack? What channels of communication are present? In the case of an attack, organizations may not be aware of how these channels work or whether they will also be attacked, leaving major holes in the defence.
- Decision-making: What are the immediate decisions that will be taken in the case of a breach and who will take the decision? What functions of the company need to be shut down? A company is most vulnerable immediately after an attack and the decisions taken during this golden period can go a long way in deciding how it recovers.
- Communication to stakeholders: How will the organization communicate internally and externally? Who needs to be informed? Many attacks nowadays consist of high-profile data breaches and in these situations, effective communication is key to limiting damage.
- Tactics to negate damage: No one likes being the victim of an attack but in the worst case scenario, what are the tactics a company can employ to negate damage? What actions can the company take?
To be most effective, cyber war games must also include senior leaders in an organization, including the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Information Office, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer and others. By participating in these cyber war games, senior leaders get a first-hand view of how devastating a modern-day cyber attack can be and its repercussions on the organizations. They also get the experience of how to deal with this kind of a tense situation in a controlled environment, hence allowing them to come out of it with a better idea and knowledge for future reference.
Hence, the growing importance of cyber war games for improving an organization’s Incident Response Plan is quite clear now. Organizations can consider Seqrite’s range of services which offer vendor agnostic, holistic and comprehensive consulting services to help organizations proactively protect IT assets. Cyber war games are part of the Red Team Audit which also include Readiness Assessments and Red Team Assessments.
As an IT security partner for your business, Seqrite provides comprehensive security from advanced cyber threats. To know more