What is forensic readiness and why is it so important?

Digitisation offers businesses a huge number of benefits, but at the same time can increase the risk of cyberattacks or security breaches. As well as protecting the business, forensic readiness is becoming a focus for many, as a way of collecting, protecting and analysing legally admissible evidence following security investigations, whether this is to internal processes, tribunals or even the courts. The challenge for companies is making sure the company can maximise its digital evidence without investigations costing large amounts or having an undue impact on the business.

Most companies understand why disaster recovery and business continuity plans are important, but forensic readiness is treated as a lower priority and only taken seriously after an incident – and even then, many times without process. In a recent survey, nearly half of company executives stated they don’t conduct forensic readiness tests and a third don’t understand their role in cyber response plans.

Proactivity is key

Taking a reactive approach is not advisable, principally because waiting until after the fact puts a huge time pressure on gathering evidence before it’s deleted, modified or causes a total loss. Without having a planned approach, it’s also more likely that the disruption to the business will be greater following a cyber incident, where limiting the effects of the attack take first priority. The greater length of time this goes on, the greater the risk that it could start to affect customers and clients.

Having all the plans, skills and capabilities working together to gather, preserve and analyse evidence following an attack is key to minimising impact, and should also include legal teams and PR professionals. Forensic readiness prevents wasted time in trying to figure out how to collect and preserve evidence on the fly and ensures the business gets back to normal quicker, in turn allowing IT professionals to understand why the attack happened and take steps to prevent it happening again.

There are also other significant benefits; an efficient process limits the amount of time and money used for investigations, it reduces the disruption to business as usual and also prevents the initiators of the attack having time to cover their tracks completely. Forensic readiness plans also mean companies can show due diligence or compliance with various regulations and being able to demonstrate these procedures increases the trust that your suppliers and customers have in the company, thereby potentially increasing loyalty.

Offering foresight

Forensic readiness can also help to reveal potential incidents before they become a serious problem. It allows cyber threats to be uncovered, traced and prevented.

Businesses no longer ask how they can respond to a cyber incident when it occurs. Instead they’re asking themselves ‘how often will we need to respond’ or ‘how do we withstand persistent attacks’. Having forensic readiness and providing employees with the knowledge, practice and skills they need can help organisations mitigate risk through preparedness and increase overall business resilience.

Forensic readiness requires a great understanding of cyber security, the threats involved and an in-depth knowledge of the industry and business at risk. As these attacks become more and more common, businesses are employing specialists to mitigate the risks and help them recover more quickly. Designed specifically for ambitious professionals, the University of York’s online Computer Science with Cyber Security MSc means you can earn a Masters degree in an in-demand field from a world-class Russell Group university without putting your current career on hold. You can access course material and study any time, anywhere, on a variety of mobile devices, and with six start dates a year to choose from, you can start when best suits you. There’s also the option of paying per module so that you can split the cost of tuition fees across the duration of study. You may even be entitled to a UK government-backed postgraduate loan to cover the full cost of the course.

Find out more and begin your application.