Incident Response Plan - Frameworks and Steps

An incident response plan is a comprehensive set of steps designed to assist organizations in managing security incidents efficiently. It outlines the processes, resources, communication channels, and escalation paths necessary for successful incident management.

NIST and SANS provide incident handling checklists to assist your team in creating a tailored, comprehensive plan.

1. Prepare

An incident response plan is a comprehensive guide for handling cybersecurity incidents. It should also have an effective communication strategy that outlines how different groups within your organization work together during such an incident.

Establishing a formal incident response team will improve your ability to respond quickly to an attack and safeguard against future cyber risks.

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2. Communicate

Regarding cybersecurity incident response, many large organizations utilize a framework that offers standard responses for specific types of incidents. NIST and SANS--two renowned institutes working in technology--have created well-known incident response steps and frameworks.

These strategies are widely popular and have some supporters, but it's essential to customize them according to your unique situation and environment. These plans should include clear guidelines regarding communication channels and the level of detail to be conveyed.

3: Collect Assets and Craft a Communications Plan

Incident response teams must compile an inventory of assets such as servers, networks, and applications. Doing this helps the team decide which areas should be prioritized according to the severity of the threat.

By categorizing incidents, deciding the communication channels and content to be conveyed becomes simpler. Getting buy-in from key stakeholders at this stage is essential for an effective response.

4: Assess Impacts and Escalate

Once the initial response phase has ended, the incident team needs to assess the damage done and contact those who should be reached for resolution plans and external communication. This can be automated within Jira Service Management through incident escalations.

The final step is assessing the incident, compiling metrics, and incorporating lessons learned into future security processes. It may be tempting to skip this stage after a major attack, but given how rapidly adversarial landscapes change, we must look objectively at this incident with fresh eyes.

5. Contain

An effective incident response plan can assist your business in mitigating security incidents, controlling its cost, and protecting its reputation. It also decreases the probability of future breaches while safeguarding data assets from unauthorized access.

The initial step in developing an effective incident response plan is to recognize the problem. This could range from losing access to your network or having your workstation infected with malware.

A sound incident response plan should be reviewed at least annually to assess its effectiveness and any gaps that need to be filled. It must also be tested through tabletop exercises so all stakeholders feel confident in their roles and responsibilities.

The final phase of an incident response plan is to eliminate the threat and restore systems online. This requires significant work, which may take days, weeks, or months depending on how severe the breach was.

6. Eradication

Regarding incident response planning, two industry-standard frameworks should be your top priorities: NIST and SANS. Both provide a comprehensive checklist that can guide your team through the process. Deciding which one to utilize can be tricky, but it's worth considering their advantages.

NIST's four-step containment, communication, detection, and eradication process is widely acclaimed as the best incident response plan. But remember: your company's priorities and acceptable risk level should always come first when creating this plan.

In addition to the tenets mentioned earlier, other elements need to be considered when crafting an effective incident management plan. Most importantly, ensure the document is user-friendly and that all relevant parties understand how to execute it effectively.

Finally, conducting a post-incident review is beneficial to assess what worked and didn't so you can make adjustments moving forward.

7. Recover

An incident response plan can be utilized to manage the effects of a disaster, such as an attack or natural calamity that disrupts your network. Begin by identifying the mission-critical functions that your organization relies on, then identify which data, applications, and equipment are essential to support those operations. Next, decide the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) for each function; RTO stands for "Recovery Time Objective," or how long an organization can tolerate being down without suffering significant effects on operations.

Once you've identified the recovery objectives, it is necessary to devise and implement an efficient system for restoring your organization's essential functions and data. These may include highly sensitive information and systems controlling it, such as databases or file servers. The initial step should be to back up essential data and systems in a secure location. Doing this will guarantee their recovery in case of an event.

Second, restore production systems and networks after patching, hardening, and updating. This requires careful planning but is necessary to prevent the spread of malware or other threats that could further harm your organization.

FAQ Section

Effective incident response is crucial for cybersecurity. Timely response minimizes damage, improves recovery, restores operations, and reduces costs, making it a cornerstone of any cybersecurity program.

During a cybersecurity incident, following a seven-step process is crucial: Prepare, Identify, Contain, Eradicate, Restore, Learn, Test, and Repeat.

An incident response plan aims to restore services, safeguard data and users, and proactively prevent future incidents. By adhering to a comprehensive checklist of steps following a cyber incident, organizations can effectively minimize the impact on their operations and swiftly address any threats that arise.

During a cybersecurity incident, it is essential to follow a proven seven-step incident response process: Prepare, Identify, Contain, Eradicate, Restore, Learn, Test, and Repeat. Adequate preparation is key, as it plays a critical role in an incident plan. The focus should not be solely on the incident itself, but rather on thorough preparation to ensure effective response and mitigation.

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