Why You Need a Forensics Team if You Experience a Cyber Attack

July 13, 2022

Cyber attacks, such as ransomware attacks, data breaches and email fraud, are unfortunately common occurrences for many governments and business organizations.  More importantly, they are becoming increasingly expensive to contend with. This is why having a competent digital forensics and incident response team to protect, identify, and investigate critical information and infrastructure is of the utmost importance for organizations around the globe. 

The Rise of Cybercrime

Statistics illustrate that cybercrime is only on the rise. Criminals are targeting more than just individual accounts, as industries like healthcare, governments and technology are now more vulnerable to a cyber attack than ever before. Over three-quarters of cyber attacks started with an email in 2020. In 2021, cyber-attacks were more likely to bring down F-35 jets than missiles. 

The costs of cybercrime are becoming increasingly alarming. Cybercrime rose worldwide from the pandemic by 600% and it’s estimated to cost organizations around the world $6 trillion every year. These attacks are driven especially by ransomware, in which the cybercriminals gain access to vulnerable IT networks and demand to be paid a ransom so that companies retrieve their encrypted or stolen data for a hefty price.

Although cybercrime is rampant, the risk of it happening to your organization can be dramatically reduced and preparation levels dramatically increased. This is where having a proper incident response and digital forensics team comes in.

What is Digital Forensics?

Digital forensics is a scientific field devoted to the collection, preservation and analysis of digital evidence. A team like ours at DFI Forensics works to identify the type of cyber attack, understand how it was breached, the attack’s timeline, and how it’s best to preserve and recover sensitive data. 

The study of forensics has been around for hundreds of years. Experts agree that it was likely used in ancient China around the 6th century. Forensics uses scientific knowledge to solve legal problems, commonly known as physical evidence. Digital forensics adds digital evidence to the table, such as computer data, social media, emails, pictures, messages and other types of digital media to analyze and present as evidence. 

Why a Digital Forensics Team?

A digital forensics team paired with an incident response team is your emergency services for your data breach. Similar to other crimes, the first 2 days (48 hours) are imperative for information gathering, preserving fresh evidence, and minimizing harm to the victim. 

As with other classic investigations, evidence is gathered to help determine the criminal motive and the means of performing the breach. In many cases, the cybercriminal will be attempting to steal or ransom banking or sensitive information. Suspects could be outside criminals or even former employees or suppliers. As for the time window, some cases are done in a small time window, perhaps during a system vulnerability, or over a longer time period.

During a cyber attack, the basic steps the teams go through are as follows:  

  • Collecting and Preserving Data Evidence: Experts capture evidence to build the forensics of what occurred when it happened, and how. 
  • Containing The Attack: After the scope of the attack is defined, the goal is to limit the target organization’s exposure to the cyber threat by cutting off gateways and pipelines to other data sources. 
  • Analyzing The Attack: The response team will define the attack type and the scope of data exposed or stolen. This way, they can understand the damage and what can be done in future steps. 

It’s daunting to have an outside company view all of your company data during a breach, but it is necessary and for the greater good. This highlights the importance of engaging a trusted and qualified digital forensics team before a breach.  Furthermore, cybercriminals often attempt to re-target systems that have been improperly or inadequately patched up to breach your systems once more if harmful access isn’t cut off. 

A digital forensics investigation team continues to work after the cyber attack response, employing the following steps and principles: 

  • Presentation of Findings to IT and Executives: We prepare comprehensive and clearly worded reports so that your organization can fully understand what happened from Executive decisions to internal IT teams. 
  • Assisting with Legal Implications of a Breach: Presenting the clear facts to lawyers, regulators and your clients allows an organization to determine the legal fallout, liability and reporting obligations that may flow from a cyberattack.
  • Making Preventative Recommendations: We have an expert digital forensics examiner to discover the truth while sifting through the information. Understanding what occurred is the first step to preventing it from happening again.

Preparing for the Worst: Cyberattack Defense

As you might guess, reacting to a cyberattack isn’t the best way to defend against one. Preparing in advance with a response system in place will ensure that minimal damage is done.

When all else fails, you’ll have a digital forensics team and an incident response team prepared for rapid deployment. Collaborating with an experienced response and forensics team is vital for corporate security. Providing this role to organizations is the best way for DFI to support organizations through a cyberattack and can drastically minimize the time and expense associated with a significant crisis. 

If you want to learn more about our services at DFI, take a look at our Incident Response Plan service.