Incident response planning is vital to ensure your business is prepared. If you run a business in Florida, you know the importance of a disaster recovery plan because you can see the potential risk. The same philosophy applies to an incident response plan. Knowing what events you need to respond to and how your business will respond is critical. Let’s explore how to create an incident response plan and the value it can bring to your company.
Why Do Businesses Need an Incident Response Plan?
The recent 2022 IBM report found that the average cost of a data breach has reached $4.35 million, a 2.6% increase from the previous year. The report also revealed that compromised credentials, such as someone gaining access to your business email, were the most common vectors for launching new attacks in 2022.
Luckily, it wasn’t all bad news. IBM’s report showed that the time needed to detect a breach has decreased by ten days. Incident response planning helps businesses better manage their security monitoring and plan for their responses. In turn, this reduces the time needed to address the issues and helps businesses in the long run.
To prepare for potential incidents, we will walk you through the essential elements of incident response planning.
What is Incident Response Planning?
With incident response planning, you will work with your teams to outline precisely how to identify and respond to potentially dangerous cybersecurity incidents. This form of preparation provides clear definitions and tasks so that everyone knows what needs to happen in the event of an incident.
What An Incident Plan Should Include
As you begin forming your incident response plan, you must include some critical characteristics to ensure it accomplishes your purpose.
A clear mission statement along with stated goals
Begin with a clear mission statement and goals. These goals should be practical and flexible so you can adjust as the cyber threat landscape changes. Make sure all departments agree on these goals.
An outline of roles and responsibilities
Your plan should also state who is responsible for managing different actions in response to the incident, preventing confusion in the high-stress situation of a cyber breach. Include protocols for updating anyone who needs to know the progress on the breach, such as customers and employees. This communication might range from press conferences to internal meetings. All teams, from legal to public relations, should agree on these roles and responsibilities.
Clear cyber threat response policies
Your incident response plan should also include clear policies for responding to cyberthreats. For example, know your course of action for ransom demands. Also, note the types of cyber-attacks that pose the biggest threats to your organization.
Employee training policies
Outline company policies for training employees, contractors, and anyone involved with the business. Know the steps you will take to make sure everyone is updated on the latest best practices in cybersecurity, including phishing, and how you will keep employees updated on internal cybersecurity procedures and response policies.
Incident detection methods
You also need to define your process for analyzing alerts that come through your security systems. Determine what you will log and how you will note the differences between cybersecurity events and incidents, and how you will record unusual activity and attempts at social engineering. Finally, ensure you know when and how you will escalate for different threats.
Criteria for determining incidents
You should also have concrete factors that you will use to define when something is an incident or not. Look to the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definitions if you need guidance on defining a cybersecurity event, cybersecurity incident, and (data) breach.
Management and containment processes
Your plan should define your actions in response to an incident. This list includes steps like unplugging impacted machines, isolating affected technology, and your goals for business continuity.
Plans for fast recovery
Your plan should also go beyond detecting and responding to incidents. After all, your main goal is getting your business back to work. Have a plan for getting the system back online and how you will test them for readiness.
Steps to creating an incident response plan
Here are the key steps to creating an incident response plan.
- Create the plan
Start by outlining the key events with your managed cybersecurity services team. We will walk you through the elements you will want to include below. Develop this plan with the help of everyone involved in incident response, such as your IT and legal teams. Remember to factor in remote employees.
2. Tabletop exercise
Once you outline your plan, you will want to run through tabletop exercises. With these exercises, you walk through potential security incidents and your response. These exercises will identify potential hiccups in your plan.
3. Adjust plan
After your exercises, make sure to address any areas that did not go as smoothly as you anticipated.
4. Breach and attack simulation
Next, you will want a full or simulated test attack. With this type of test, you look at the outlined plan for attack response and observe how people respond.
5. Debrief after every test or incident and adjust
Debrief your team after any time you use the plan, including incidents and tests. Ask them how they felt the plan worked and what needed to be adjusted.
6. Adjust, revise, and refine the plan
Use the insight from these tests to find any additional necessary plan adjustments. Tie it in with your zero trust policies.
7. Implement a testing cycle
You should repeat your testing about every six months. Threats continually evolve, and you must appropriately update your plan to evolve with them.
Incident Response Planning: Why Testing Your Plan is Vital
You don’t run a fire drill in the middle of a fire – you prepare beforehand. The same principle applies to incident response. Like a disaster recovery plan, following the steps of planning, testing, and walking through different situations while regularly refining your strategies at regular intervals can make sure you are ready for what the future brings.