Hackers pose an enormous threat to businesses both big and small. Companies that wish to avoid these risks must be proactive in how they protect themselves, and their customers from getting breached. Often, this involves software and good password hygiene. It can also mean learning new skills. In this article, we take a look at why your employees should know the basics of digital forensics.
What is Digital Forensics?
Digital forensics is, essentially, detective work. Digital forensic professionals are called onto the “scene” of cyber crimes,” to figure out what happened, when it happened, and who did it. They accomplish this by tracing digital footprints from the system that was hacked to the person or people who did the hacking.
There are educational programs dedicated to this profession, and mastery takes many years. However, your staff doesn’t necessarily need to get terribly in-depth with their understanding of digital forensics to develop skills that can make a big difference for your business.
Basic Means Basic
Digital forensics is its own line of work. People go to school for it, train at it for years, and spend their careers learning and honing new skills. Expecting your sales staff to do the same is unreasonable. It’s also not really necessary.
In the event of a significant digital breach, digital forensics will be handled by an actual professional. Said professional will not be asking your customer service department for their best guess as to what happened. So, why learn it at all?
Understanding digital forensics is a great tool for increasing your internal cyber security practices. A staff that understands how cyber crimes take place will be less likely to fall for them. The majority of data breaches happen through very simple means.
Someone opens an email they shouldn’t have. Or they use insecure wifi. Or they visit a phishy (see what we did there?) site.
Once the mistake has been made, cybercriminals gain access to your information for years. You won’t realize they got in until after a significant amount of damage has been done.
By integrating digital forensics as part of a larger cyber security strategy, you reduce the issues of problems taking place at all.
Better Cooperation With Law Enforcement
When a significant cyber breach takes place, law enforcement is involved. That’s when the professional digital forensic specialists show up. Businesses that know the basics of security hygiene and forensic tracking are well-positioned to help the cyber security professionals out in their investigation.
A trained staff should:
- Have a general understanding of when the breach took place. By being able to tell investigators when the incident happened you narrow their search considerably. This is valuable for them, of course, in that it increases their odds of catching the perpetrator. It’s also valuable for you. It can take many months to recover from the damage done by a breach. The faster you can get into the recovery and recuperation process, the better off you will ultimately be.
- How it happened. A staff that has been trained in digital forensics will be well-positioned to say, “you know what, there was that odd email back in May.”Once again, intel like this helps expedite the investigation, and get you back on the recovery track.
Of course, the professionals aren’t going to simply take your word for everything. They will have to perform their own investigation. Still, by being able to give them a little information, you vastly increase the odds of resolving the situation successfully and quickly.
Improve Your Chances of Recovery
As mentioned earlier, recovering from a breach can take many months. Understanding digital forensics can help speed things along by increasing your ability to understand what happened and fix it. Not only can this save you a lot of time, but it can also make a big financial difference as well.
This is particularly true in instances where customer information has been compromised. Being able to reach out directly to customers after a breach and tell them what happened and what you are going to do about it is the ethical decision. It also can help recover your brand’s image.
How to Do It
So, how do you equip your staff with the skills they need to be competent in digital forensics? First, you need an overall good cyber security strategy. This will involve:
- Regularly updating your systems. Out-of-date firewalls don’t perform as well as they should. New cyber threats emerge every day. If you aren’t keeping up with the security technology, your system will be very vulnerable to new risks.
- Good password hygiene. This means keeping passwords complicated and private. Nothing a hacker could guess after taking a look at your Facebook page.
- Multistep verification. Multistep verification is admittedly a bit of a drag. No one wants to prove that they are them as they log in at work by clicking a link on an email or trying to remember what their first concert was. Irritating or not, however, multiple steps of verification can reduce the odds of experiencing a breach, and make them easier to track in the event that they do happen.
- Train your staff. For your security measures to be truly effective, they need to be universally applied. Train your staff, both in what they need to be doing and in your overall expectations for how cyber security will be handled.
- Practice what you preach. Change within the workplace is usually only effective when it comes from the top and goes down from there. If you are asking your employees to learn new skills, and complicate their lies a bit for the sake of security, it’s important that they see you doing the same thing.
It is during training sessions that you will have the best opportunity to teach your staff the basics of digital forensics. While you don’t have to be a professional to implement some of these skills in the workplace, it may help to have a professional-level understanding of them to teach the skills.
If you wish to do this yourself, consider taking a class in digital forensics. Short of this, there are professionals who offer cyber security training sessions for businesses. Do research in your area to find out if there is anyone teaching the specific skills you want your staff to know.