Chamber of Commerce officials are asking companies to work with law enforcement agencies to develop cyber attack response plans and threat sharing partnerships to combat increasing numbers of ransomware and data breach attempts.

A new white paper released Wednesday urged industry to more effectively report cyber breaches, citing the Department of Homeland Security’s InfraGard threat sharing program and utilizing FBI channels as steps to improve responses to attacks.iStock Cyber Lock

“Effective partnerships between the business community and law enforcement are critical in defending U.S. national and economic security from cybercrime,” Chamber of Commerce officials wrote. “While there are many best practices and measures that should be implemented to secure digital assets, collaborating with law enforcement should be a top priority.”

The suggests a set of new best practices for industry, including cultivating direct relationships with relevant law enforcement, identifying top data protection priorities, finalizing a cyber incident response plan and taking a proactive approach to reporting cyber anomalies before they become risks.

Commerce officials point to recent reports highlighting the growing economic threat of malicious cyber cyber activity. The cost of cyber incidents to U.S. businesses was between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016, according to a  Council of Economic Advisers report.

Critical infrastructure partners are particularly vulnerable to targeted cyber attacks and commerce officials want to see them take part in the DHS’ InfraGard threat sharing program.

“Businesses in critical infrastructure sectors are urged to connect with the FBI through InfraGard,” officials wrote.

The program, with 84 chapters around the country and over 50,000 members, serves as a platform for private sector cyber officials to connect with DHS authorities and other companies to exchange critical information on known software vulnerabilities and tips on impending attacks.

“Cooperation and information sharing with proper authorities both increases the likelihood of attribution for that business and, in many cases, can lead to further prevention by notifying other potential targets of the threat,” officials wrote.

With cyber incidents an almost inevitable occurrence at some point, commerce officials want industry leadership to develop channels with the relevant law enforcement partners, such as the FBI, before the next attack occurs.

“The best time to engage law enforcement is before you have a digital disaster. Often times the first time a company is meeting their FBI cyber team is when they are knocking at their door to notify them their company is a victim of a data breach. Work early and often with law enforcement, they can often be another layer of offense alerting you to digital break-ins occurring across the globe and can provide practical steps to avoid becoming the next victim,” Theresa Payton, a former White House CIO during the George W. Bush administration, said.

Cyber incidents can be reported through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center to facilitate faster security investigations.

Companies should also establish communication with FBI field offices as part of their individual incident response plans.

“Along with adopting the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework and developing an internal cyber incident response plan, knowing how to engage with law enforcement should form a key element of any organization’s efforts to manage their cyber risk effectively,” Michael Daniel, president of the Cyber Threat Alliance, said.