Security breaches can be devastating for an organization, and not just in terms of the cost of recovery. A security breach can topple an organization’s reputation and revenue in a short amount of time. As billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to develop a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Keeping that in mind, it’s ideal to have an incident response plan in place before a security breach occurs.
Incident response plans are designed to help organizations detect, respond to, and recover from network security incidents. This can include cybercrime, data loss, and service disruptions. Having a plan in place helps contribute to the development of cybersecurity as well as overall organizational resilience.
Despite what you may think, smaller organizations are often more vulnerable to cyberattacks than larger enterprises. Since they have limited resources and funds, incident response is usually given less attention. However, failing to respond swiftly and effectively when a cyberattack occurs can cost far more than putting an incident response plan in place.
Essential Elements of an Incident Response Plan
Every incident response plan should include the following five key elements to successfully address the wide range of security issues that an organization can face:
Key 1: Incident Identification and Rapid Response
It’s critical to evaluate the threat effectively and decide whether to implement the incident response plan. This requires two prerequisites:
- An authorized person (staff member or consultant) to initiate the plan
- A place for the incident response team to meet and discuss – this can be an online place (such as Teams or Zoom) or an offline place, like an offsite office-sharing facility or rental room.
The sooner the incident is detected and addressed, the less severe the impact.
Key 2: Resources
In case of a cyberattack, the response team will usually have emergency kits on hand and have the following resources to help navigate through the event:
- Digital tools to take all machines offline after forensic analysis
- Solutions to regulate access to the organization’s IT environment and keep hackers out of the network
- Measures to employ standby machines to ensure operational continuity
Key 3: Roles and Responsibilities
Whether you’re dealing with an incident that occurs in the middle of the night or at an unexpected time, it’s critical to establish the roles and responsibilities of your incident response team members. The people on this team should always be available to handle any situation that may arise.
Key 4: Detection and Analysis
An important component of any incident response plan is documenting everything. You should keep a record of how an incident is detected, how to report it, what to do with it once reported, and how to contain it. This will help you create a playbook for handling a wide range of risks.
Key 5: Containment, Eradication, and Recovery
- Containment specifies the methods for restricting the incident’s scope. A ransomware attack, for example, must be handled very differently than an insider threat.
- Eradication is all about techniques to eliminate a threat from all affected systems.
- Because incidents cannot always be prevented, recovery efforts concentrate on reducing potential harm and resuming operations as quickly as possible.
Considerations for an Incident Response Plan
An incident response plan must address any concerns that arise from an evolving threat landscape. Before you start crafting your plan, there are several considerations to be made, including:
- Building an incident response plan should not be a one-off exercise. It should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it considers the most recent technical and environmental changes that may influence your organization.
- Your incident response plan and the team working on it must be supported and guided by top management.
- It’s critical to document the contact information of key personnel for emergency communication.
- Every person in the incident response team must maintain accountability.
- Deploy the appropriate tools and procedures to improve the effectiveness of the incident response.
- Your security, backup, and compliance postures must all be given the same attention.
When you think about it, we live in an era where only resilient organizations can navigate through all the complexities created by technological advancements and other unexpected external influences. That’s why having an incident response plan is essential.
When a crisis hits, it can be stressful for everyone involved—from employees who are trying to do their jobs to executives who must figure out what to do next. But when you have an incident response plan in place and everyone knows exactly what they should be doing, the stress level goes way down. The plan keeps everyone on track so that you can focus on getting through the crisis as quickly as possible without having to worry about anything else.
What part of your incident response plan are you stuck on? As always, we’re here to help.