After a cybersecurity incident, a critical component of an efficient response is a full investigation and digital forensics report. It takes trained professionals who can identify the right information to collect, store it in a safe location, and process it to make intelligent reports. These reports are used for law enforcement and decision-making efforts for cyber-defense improvements.
The impact from a successful attack can cost organizations millions. The average cost of a data breach is $3.92 million worldwide and $8.19 million in the US. This average increases when incident response is slow and inexperienced with the way an investigation should be carried out. For this reason, it’s important to work with experienced investigators who know where to look for hidden evidence. Even hidden, deleted files can disclose an attacker’s intent and the severity of a compromise.
Digital forensics and investigators work together to ensure all evidence is uncovered, processed, documented and delivered to law enforcement when necessary. Investigations are beneficial for cyber-criminal charges, but they can also help administrators understand what went wrong. Lessons learned can be developed from investigation reports so that better cybersecurity defenses can be designed, configured and deployed to avoid the same incident in the future.
An organized investigation with a team that has a specific workflow and framework to use will ensure the accuracy of forensics and is uncovered. Investigations carried out in large organizations need the right team to ensure discrete forensics that does not interfere with employee productivity. Discrete investigations also ensure that any internal bad actors are not notified and do not harm the integrity of files before they are archived and collected.
Investigations teams work closely with forensics and the tools needed to identify and safeguard files. Automated tools may be run on a variety of endpoints including mobile devices. It can also then be used in data analysis as the organization discovers the extent of a data breach. Full investigations allow an organization to identify intent in some cases when cyber crime involves malicious insiders, corporate espionage, intellectual property theft, and other attacks that specifically target a corporate entity.
Although several international organizations define frameworks and rules for digital forensics and investigations, an organization needs professionals familiar with the darkweb, malware files, encryption, and common forms of attacks. They should also be able to work with zero-day attacks and identify backdoors configured by an attacker during a persistent threat. Professional investigators can take a simple alert and identify critical components of an attack that could lead to further more severe data breach opportunities for a hacker.
Digital forensics is the first step in an investigation, but the next step is interviews, interrogation, surveillance and threat intelligence that can benefit the organization after an incident. It’s important to never skip the investigation and forensics steps to avoid a recurrence of the original attack. Uncovering vulnerabilities will harden current organization security and improve cybersecurity posture. With professional investigators, an organization reduces risk and the cost of damages from an unforeseen future data breach.