5 Steps for Responding to Security Incidents

A cyber security incident response plan should outline the general steps for responding to computer security incidents. In addition to providing a standardized process flow, it should identify incident response stakeholders and establish their roles and responsibilities; define those sources and their severity levels that can trigger an incident; and include requirements for annual testing, post-incident lessons learned, and the collection of incident response metrics to gauge effectiveness.

1.   Provide a standardized response process flow

2.   Identify incident response stakeholders

3.   Define incident triggering sources and their severity levels

4.   Regularly test your incident response plan

5.   Post-incident lessons learned and response collection

All companies, including SMEs, need a cybersecurity incident response plan. No organization is exempt from a cybersecurity threat or falling victim to a cybersecurity attack.  Therefore, during a cybersecurity incident, speed of actions is critical. Having an automated cybersecurity incident response plan that can execute immediately following an incident or attack goes a long way towards mitigating costs, downtime and damages. Controls and security measures are therefore crucial to prevent and, when necessary, respond to security incidents.  

1.   Provide a standardized response process flow     

An incident response process flow should be standardized to guide the response team or incident response stakeholders on how to respond to cyber situations effectively and efficiently. The focus of the incident response process should be to eradicate the problem as quickly as possible, while also collecting actionable data, to restore business functions, improve incident detection and prevent reoccurrence.

2.   Identify incident response stakeholders      

To be best placed to respond rapidly and efficiently to a cybersecurity incident, identify primary and secondary incident response stakeholders from the relevant units of your business. Incident response stakeholders are any individuals – technical or non-technical, from plan managers to action owners directly responding to or overseeing incident response activities. 

3.   Define incident triggering sources and their severity levels 

An incident triggering source is an event that indicates the presence of a cyber threat. An incident trigger should warn the security team that a cyber-attack may be imminent or in progress. Triggers could originate from, for example, the endpoint protection system with an attacker trying to access a known server or from the network evidenced by an unexpected rise in the volume of DNS or access to suspicious domains or URLs.

4.   Regularly test your incident response plan 

To ensure that your cyber incident response plan is functioning optimally, the incident response process must be regularly tested quarterly. Testing can be carried out with mock incident training and exercises using realistic scenarios to provide a high-level outline and systematic walkthrough of the incident response process. Testing should include, as far as possible, all incident response stakeholders.  Our Cyber Security – Quarterly review plan is ideal for this purpose.

5.   Post-incident lessons learned and response collection   

Post-incident discussions should highlight key learning opportunities and incorporate lessons learned, which can then be integrated into the incident response plan as part of its review. Take time to do a full assessment of what happened. How was the attack delivered? What mistakes were made? If possible, retrace the trajectory of the attack and eliminate or mitigate against future attacks. 

The best way to defend against a cybersecurity incident is to not let it happen. Evaluate your organization’s ability to respond to cyber security incidents and threats using our automated plans to chart out the necessary steps and inform the necessary stakeholders with the push of a button. Plan4Continuity’s Cyber Security – Quarterly review will furthermore ensure that you stay ahead and prevent attacks from happening at all.

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