Without cybersecurity best practices, your city could find itself in a situation where it takes hours or even days to discover a data breach or attack and fix the issue. Having an incident response plan can help your team get organized and act quickly to reduce the impacts your city experiences from a cyber-attack.

Hackers are targeting municipalities just like they target large corporations. And even if you only face small breaches from an individual or hacktivist, you need a response plan.

Incident Response Plan

Cybersecurity Best Practices For Creating An Incident Response Plan

An incident response plan starts with assessing your risks and doing all you can to prevent an attack. It’s a good idea to outline the following when reviewing your cybersecurity risks.

Data Policies And Procedures

Hackers use your municipality’s weaknesses to infiltrate your technology. So creating clear cybersecurity governance policies and procedures will help you avoid weaknesses to prevent cybersecurity attacks.

Cybersecurity Prevention Measures

Create a cybersecurity plan that outlines password management, multifactor authentication, encryption, network/device update requirements, data backup measures and any other relevant information specific to your municipality. Of course, the better your cybersecurity practices are, the less likely you’ll be to face an attack.

Staff Education

Everyone plays a role in protecting your data and technology. So teach your staff how to identify malicious emails, phone calls, text messages and more that seek to find a way into your technology. Also educate staff members about how to identify a potential data breach or cybersecurity attack. This will help you catch these incidents quickly to reduce their impact.

Vendor Roles

Third parties can be the source of your cybersecurity weaknesses. Put policies in place that outline third-party technology requirements. And be disciplined to never work with vendors that don’t meet these requirements.

Cybersecurity Insurance

Even with the best prevention measures and policies, you might still face a cybersecurity attack. Insurance can help you reduce your liability when you face an unforeseen breach and help you recover financially. 

Just know that you’ll still need to follow government cybersecurity best practices and have a response plan. These are requirements to purchase an insurance policy and collect on a claim if the time comes. 

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Outline Key Team Members And Stakeholders

Your incident response plan must outline internal and external stakeholders. You should explain who can make decisions in the case of an incident. Also, explain the role each major stakeholder plays in alerting authorities, issuing a statement and eliminating the area of weakness that allowed for the breach. 

Your roles and stakeholders section should include contact information, including after-hours information because an attack can happen at any time. What’s more, your technology might be down, so you can’t rely on email to activate your response plan.

Develop A Recovery Plan

When your constituents and local media are pressuring you to close up a cyber leak, your team might struggle to take the right steps to secure your technology. Preparing a clear step-by-step outline for how to secure your most important assets and resources first can help speed up the recovery process. A flowchart outlining these steps based on common scenarios can guide your team.

Draft Statements And PR Plan

Informing the public can help you reduce the impacts you suffer to your reputation and public perception. Having draft statements and a PR plan for a cybersecurity attack can speed up your ability to communicate important information. Your PR plan might include draft press releases, how you’re resolving the issue, and how people can get more information. Try to be as open and transparent as you can be.   

Incident Event Log

Logging information about a security breach can help you evaluate the situation afterward. You should include information about when and how you discovered the breach. The more detail you include, the easier it will be for you to understand what happened and prevent future incidents. Noting even minor breaches can help you avoid large ones.  

Phases Of A Cybersecurity Breach

At the time you’re reading this, hopefully, you haven’t experienced a cybersecurity threat yet. Understanding the processes a hacker uses to carry out an attack can help you mount countermeasures to identify and prevent the attack before you experience it. 

Here are the three main phases of an attack and what you can do to prevent it.

  1. The hacker identifies a target and looks for vulnerabilities. At this point you should be monitoring and logging any weaknesses you find within your systems regularly. These system checks will help you identify these vulnerabilities before a hacker does.
  2. The hacker works to exploit the vulnerabilities they’ve identified and gets through other controls to access your data and systems. Your countermeasures for avoiding this are to complete regular penetration testing and design your systems in a way that makes it challenging to penetrate your firewalls.
  3. The hacker disrupts your systems and extracts or manipulates your data. At this point, your countermeasures are more reactive than proactive. You’ll activate your cyber incident response plan. And if the hacker causes you serious impacts, you’ll file a cybersecurity insurance claim.

Cybersecurity Risk Management 

Managing cybersecurity risks starts with secure technology. BMSI is government software with outstanding security measures. Schedule a free consultation to learn more and see if you qualify for free data transfer.