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Cyber Attacks: Prevention Is Key, But Do You Have A Response Plan?

An Ohio school district recently suffered a cyber attack that targeted its communication mechanisms. The attack shut down phones, internet, email, Wi-Fi networks, and Google Classroom. Staff members were unable to receive calls or emails from the school community.

School officials worked with forensic investigators to learn more about the attack and established a phone number outside of its network for emergency use. They communicated this number via their alert system and written letters given to students. "Washington Local Schools hit by cyber attack" www.13abc.com (May 18, 2022).

Commentary

In all types of organizations, maintaining a strong commitment to prevention is an important element in cybersecurity. However, as seen in this school breach, having a systems breach recovery plan in place is key to mitigating the extent of damage from a cyber attack.

After losing all communications, the school quickly implemented an alternative means through which they could receive emergency communications. In addition, they clearly had an alert system that was outside of their network, and thus unaffected by the systems breach.

When developing a cyber attack response plan, be sure to assess all areas of operation that could be a target - data files, communications, physical security, etc. Develop work-arounds for the most important areas of risk, like communications.

Other general elements to incorporate into your response plan include procedures for determining the extent of the breach; quarantining infected networks/computers; engaging the services of experts in cyber forensics; implementing necessary password changes; and communicating pertinent information to employees and others in your workplace community. If you do experience a cyber attack, take that opportunity to review the effectiveness of your procedures and revise them where needed.

Also, make sure you maintain clean backups of your systems, to facilitate a quick restoration.

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