Resources | Guides | Understanding Out-of-Band Communication and the role it plays in cyber attack response
Avoiding cyber attacks is the goal of every company but there is no such thing as perfect security. The costs of a breach can be disastrous. We tend to forgive the victims, so long as they were not negligent, as it can happen to anyone. However, we do not forgive those that fail in their response, try to cover things up and keep the attack secret from consumers and clients.
How you respond to a major cyber attack will decide the future of your business
To be sufficiently prepared you need a practiced response plan and Out-of-Band Communication capabilities. So, what are the ways the response can go wrong and what OOB tools should you have available?
- Too slow to respond: Lack of preparation and an untested response plan can lead to late recognition that a cyber attack is in progress. Sometimes it is hard for the IT team to flag a disruption as a cyber attack rather than an IT malfunction, as the attackers obscure their approach. Time is of the essence, so it is always best practice to stand up the crisis team if there is any possibility of a real attack.
- Too fast to respond: Outages can cause huge stress with shouty customers and staff demanding answers. Panic is the enemy of good practice and an overreaction could wipe out the evidence of the point of entry, methods of the attack and the extent of the infection making forensic and recovery work harder. Unlike natural disasters, these attacks are made with human ingenuity and cunning with the attacker having been in the system long before the attack is triggered. You need to know what they have done before you can fix it.
- Out-of-band (OOB) Communication tools: OOB communication refers to separate communication channels that are independent of normal operations. They are generally used by the IT and Crisis Response team and ready to go when a crisis hits. In a major cyber attack your normal means of communication such as email, phone, Teams etc, should be assumed to be compromised. As you roll out the response plan, the hackers may read every move and react accordingly making the attack harder to resolve.
Managing a Major Cyber Attack using OOB tools:
- Emergency Notification and Alerts: During a crisis, timely and accurate communication is essential to inform individuals about the situation, provide safety instructions, and deliver important updates. Out-of-band communication channels, such as emergency alert systems, can reach a wide range of recipients through multiple means including text messages, phone calls or dedicated apps. These alternative channels ensure that critical information reaches the intended recipients, even if traditional communication networks are overwhelmed.
- Coordination and Collaboration: Crisis management often involves the coordination of multiple experts and responders. Out-of-band communication tools like Chat Channels enable these teams to establish dedicated spaces for real-time collaboration, sharing of situational updates, resource allocation, and decision-making. Secure instant messaging and conferencing improves coordination efforts and helps prevent information bottlenecks, enabling a more efficient and coordinated crisis response.
- Resilience in Network Infrastructure: In certain crisis situations, network infrastructure may be severely impacted, rendering traditional communication channels unreliable or unavailable. Out-of-band communication provides a fallback option, allowing essential communication to continue even when primary networks are compromised. By establishing redundant and independent communication paths, organisations can maintain connectivity and communication capabilities, ensuring continuous operations during critical times.
- Remote Command and Control: Crisis situations often require remote command and control capabilities to manage resources, monitor critical infrastructure, and make timely decisions. Out-of-band communications enable administrators and decision-makers to remotely access and control essential systems, devices, and networks. This ensures that crisis management teams can continue to operate and respond effectively, regardless of physical proximity or the state of regular communication networks.
Preparation is the key and having an OOB Communication tool can significantly improve your ability to respond to an attack, providing alternative comms channels that are resilient, reliable, and accessible during emergencies.
The ability to establish dedicated paths for critical information exchange ensures that communication remains robust and effective, even in the face of disrupted or overloaded primary communication networks. By implementing out-of-band communication capabilities and incorporating them into crisis management plans, organisations can enhance their resilience, improve coordination, and ensure the timely flow of vital information during critical situations.
As the world faces an increasingly complex and unpredictable landscape, the importance of out-of-band communication in crisis management cannot be overstated.