Cybercrime investigators are now becoming essential for businesses in high-risk industries. Cyber attacks are more common today, and while now we all know they exist, not all of us may be able to recognise them. While this can be detrimental for individuals, for businesses, the impact can be greater. This is where cybercrime investigators step in. Cybercrime investigators are responsible for ensuring everything runs smoothly and the company is not unprepared to face any potential threats. What does that look like? 

While specific tasks and responsibilities can vary from organisation to organisation, cybercrime investigators have general responsibilities they need to fulfil. 

Responsibilities of a cybercrime investigator

To fully understand the job description of a cybercrime investigator, businesses need to be aware of what risks they are facing. In this instance, those risks are cyber attacks. These usually include:

1. Malware attacks: Malware is a type of software that is designed to harm or exploit computer systems. It can take many forms, including viruses and trojans. Malware can be used to steal data, damage systems and even take control of someone’s computer.

2. Phishing attacks: Phishing occurs when cybercriminals try to trick victims into clicking links, usually disguised under a call to action. These links try to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials and credit card numbers. Attackers use a variety of techniques to make phishing emails and websites look legitimate, including copying the branding of well-known companies. Most of the time the call to action they use has an underlining urgency that leaves the victim with little to no time to think. 

Cybercriminals count on the individual being caught off guard and people usually fall for the scam when they are tired or when they are not paying attention. Currently, phishing is the main threat to both companies and individuals. 

3. Ransomware attacks: Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the victim’s files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key. Even if victims pay the ransom, there is no guarantee that the attacker will actually provide the decryption key. Criminals may make other demands instead of payments, urging companies to take some type of action if they want the funds or files back. 

4. Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks: A DoS attack is designed to overload a server or network with traffic, rendering it unable to respond to legitimate requests. This type of attack can cause significant disruption to businesses and other organisations.

Cybercriminals may use each attack on its own, however, most attacks are usually a combination of strategies. For example, a phishing email may contain malware or ransomware. As the attacks are targeted, the criminals are assessing the company and its weaknesses externally and potentially internally. This means that the company needs to be prepared and respond as fast as possible. 

Cybercrime investigators are called in to assist with cyber attack investigation to ensure that the process is as efficient as possible and maximises any chances of retrieving files and funds. 

Every cybercrime investigator is responsible for:

  • Investigating incidents 
  • Recover files or funds
  • Remediation (timeline documented)
  • Identify and assess weaknesses
  • Recommend preventative strategies
  • Stay up to date with the latest updates

Investigating incidents 

Cybercrime investigators should analyse the situation to understand what occurred. This includes looking at the chain of custody and gathering evidence. Evidence such as activity logs and metadata will allow the investigator to figure out what methods the cybercriminals used to get into the system and where the line of events started. After finding the root cause of the problem, investigators can then look at what areas were affected. The cyber attack may have been identified by the company due to certain information being compromised, leaked or stolen. However, there are other areas of the organisation that could have gone undetected. The cybercrime investigator is responsible for identifying this. 

Another part of gathering evidence involves talking with employees and getting as many perspectives as possible. This will allow them to understand whether it was an accident or intentional and get more details into what exactly occurred. Once the evidence has been collected and the investigator has completed their analysis, they will need to move on to writing a report and attempting to recover files and potentially funds. 

Recover files or funds

The cybercrime investigator is responsible for assisting the business in recovering its lost and stolen data and depending on the situation, its funds. In an ideal scenario, it could be possible for the company to get back all of its files with only some of its time allocated to the process. Unfortunately, the majority of incidents are complicated and recovery may take a considerable amount of time and may not be successful. Investigators should assist the company in recovering as much data and funds as possible.

This could translate to them giving them advice on how to approach the process or laying out a guide, outlining the whole process step by step. Please note that a great element contributing to the success of the recovery depends on how quickly the business acts and the severity of the attack. 

Identify and assess weaknesses

A cyber attack is usually the result of many things going wrong. A software may not have been updated, firewalls may not have been implemented or files were not shared safely. An employee may have clicked on a link at the end of a tiring work day or early in the morning. Once a cyber attack has occurred, the business needs to conduct a review of its organisation to identify and assess any potential weaknesses. Focusing on the areas of improvement will create a stronger support system and allow the company to implement better strategies, specifically targeted to the issues they are experiencing.

cybercrime investigator

Recommend preventative strategies

Once the identification and analysis of weaknesses have been finalised, businesses need to work with the cybercrime investigator on creating effective preventative strategies. These should prevent similar incidents along with other types of cyber attacks. 

Depending on the situation, these strategies could be: 

1. Implement policies

Companies must establish and strictly enforce cybersecurity policies and procedures that are customised to their unique requirements. This includes conducting regular security audits and assessments, creating incident response plans, and using cybersecurity tools such as antivirus and firewalls. These policies could include BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), IT and safety and a social media policy. This is because employees are now using their own devices more than ever and use social media regularly. Two weaknesses that could be used by cybercriminals. 

2. Train employees

You may hear this often but organisations must invest in regular security awareness training programs to help employees recognise and avoid common cyber threats. Especially when it comes to phishing, employees can be easily tricked as cybercriminals are always looking for how to improve their techniques. Just like cybercriminals are adapting and improving, the business should also work on improving thier current awareness and learn to recognise new types of cybercrime attempts. A cybercrime investigator can recommend the best ways to approach cyber training and whether certain programs should be mandatory. 

3. Keep software up-to-date

If the cybercrime investigator identified outdated software as a weakness or the source of the attack, then the company needs to take steps to update all of its software. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software and operating systems to gain unauthorised access to networks. Regularly updating software and conducting security patches can assist in minimising the risk of cyber attacks.

4. Backup data regularly

Data backup is essential for preventing important and sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. This could mean backing up data in cloud software or an external hard drive. For smaller files, companies could use USBs, as long as there is a strong antivirus that can warn the organisation of a malware-infested USB. 

5. Encryption

A cybercrime investigator may suggest encryption as a way of locking cybercriminals out of files. Encryption requires a key or password to unlock the files which creates another barrier for cybercriminals.

Stay up to date with the latest updates

Another responsibility of a cybercrime investigator is to stay up to date with the latest updates and information. This has been said repeatedly but cybercriminals get smarter and spend time planning and executing their attacks. The only way investigators can try to predict what will happen or understand what has happened is to educate themselves on the latest strategies. What software do they use? What do the latest scam attempts look like? For example, cybercriminals might have started sending ‘urgent’ text messages at night time, when employees are tired. Cybercrime investigators should warn companies of the potential threats will have if the employees use a work device.

Wrapping up 

A cybercrime investigator now has a lot of responsibility as a simple cyberattack could ruin the reputation of the business if it is not handled correctly. They need to find the source of the problem and analyse the attacks carefully while trying to spot any potential weaknesses. 

At Polonious we recognise how time-consuming and complex this might become for an individual. This is why we provide cybercrime investigators with a reliable system that can automate processes such as case updates and workflows. We offer them secure storage and handle help them save time and money by speeding up the investigation process. If you want to learn more about how our system works, book a demo!