Managed Detection & Response

Cyber Security Incident Response Plan, What Do You Need to Know?

Understanding where you are weak and putting measures in place to ensure that you organisation is protected is exactly what organisations should be doing to prevent cyber-attacks. 

Why when it comes to incident response are organisations so reluctant to plan ahead? 

Is it the fear of the unknown, often business don’t know what they don’t know, if you have never had a breach how do you know you are effectively planning to mitigate the fall out when one does occur? 

Could it be the lack of internal resource? Or a focus on business operations that stops the cyber conversation in general? 

Changing the narrative so that incident response planning doesn’t seem like a daunting pessimistic task is important to achieving success. 

In this post we will be taking a look at the importance of an incident response plan, how it can help organisations and what should be included, we will also discuss ways you can walk through your plan to ensure that it is fit for purpose. 

But first, what is Incident Response?

Incident response is the process of detecting, responding to, and recovering from cybersecurity incidents. It involves a team of experts who work together to identify the nature of the incident, contain the damage, and restore normal operations as quickly as possible. 

Why should businesses have an Incident Response Plan?

Business should be looking at including incident response as part of their business continuity plan. In the same way we carry out fire alarm drills we should be looking at carrying out incident response exercises. With the increasing frequency and complexity of cyber-attacks, it is no longer a matter of if, but when a company will face a cyber incident. 

An incident response plan is a crucial element of a business’s cybersecurity strategy. It empowers organisations to respond swiftly and effectively to cyber incidents, protect sensitive data, meet regulatory requirements, and to preserve customer trust. Implementing such a plan demonstrates a commitment to cyber security and helps businesses navigate the complex landscape of cyber threats successfully.

There are several critical reasons a business should have an incident response plan, these include: 

Minimise Damage and Downtime: An incident response plan allows businesses to respond swiftly and effectively when a cyber-attack or security breach occurs. This quick response can help minimise the extent of damage to systems, data, and reputation, reducing downtime and ensuring business continuity.

Protect Sensitive Data: In today’s data-driven world, businesses handle vast amounts of sensitive information, including customer data and proprietary information. An incident response plan helps safeguard this data by outlining procedures to detect, contain, and mitigate any breaches.

Meet Regulatory Requirements: Many industries are subject to strict regulatory requirements regarding data protection and incident reporting. Having a well-defined incident response plan ensures compliance with these regulations and avoids potential legal and financial consequences. 

Preserve Customer Trust: A cyber-incident can significantly impact customer trust and loyalty. By demonstrating a proactive approach to handling security breaches through an incident response plan, businesses can show customers that they take data protection seriously.

Avoid Public Relations Disasters: Swift and effective response to cyber incidents can help businesses manage public relations fallout. Having a plan in place enables the organisation to communicate transparently with stakeholders and the public, mitigating potential reputational damage.

Reduce Recovery Time and Costs: An incident response plan facilitates a structured and organised approach to recovery, leading to faster resolution and reduced recovery costs compared to an ad-hoc response to a cyber-incident.

Identify and Address Vulnerabilities: Preparing an incident response plan involves identifying potential weaknesses in the organisation’s security infrastructure. Addressing these vulnerabilities proactively strengthens overall security posture and reduces the likelihood of future incidents.

Establish Clear Roles and Responsibilities: The incident response plan defines roles and responsibilities for team members, ensuring everyone knows what actions to take during a cyber-incident. This clarity helps streamline the response process and avoid confusion.

Continuous Improvement: Through post-incident reviews and simulations, businesses can identify areas for improvement and update their incident response plan accordingly. This continuous improvement process enhances the organisation’s ability to handle future incidents effectively.

Comprehensive Risk Management: Having an incident response plan is a vital component of a comprehensive risk management strategy. It complements other security measures, such as firewalls, encryption, and employee training, to create a robust defence against cyber threats.

What Should Your Incident Response Plan Cover?

Creating a comprehensive incident response plan involves outlining the steps that will be taken in the event of a cyber-attack. This includes identifying the members of the incident response team, establishing communication protocols, and defining the roles and responsibilities of each team member, The incident response plan should also include a testing and training program to ensure that team members are prepared to respond effectively in the event of an incident. 

Stages to An Incident Response Plan:

Preparation – Establishing the team that will be responsible for responding to cyber incidents, defining roles and responsibilities, establishing communication protocols, and identifying critical assets and potential threats. Training and table-top exercises will be identified here. 

Identification – This is arguably the most important step, looking at how you will know if an incident has occurred, do you have monitoring in place? 

Containment – Containing the incident helps to prevent further damage. 

Analysis – The Incident Response team should conduct a thorough analysis of the incident to determine the scope, impact, and root cause.

Eradication – Taking steps to ensure that the threat is removed and affected systems can be restored.

Recovery – This stage involves restoring affected systems and services to their normal state and ensuring that they are secure and free from further threats.

Post-Incident review – After the incident has been resolved, the team should conduct a review, this is to evaluate the effectiveness of the incident response plan as well as a what went wrong to be better prepared in the case of another attack.

If an incident does occur you should document the steps taken at each stage of the plan, this not only provides a record but allows you to go back and improve the plan at a later date.

It is also important to remember that an incident response plan should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in technology, organisational structure, and emerging threats. 

How can businesses ensure their Incident Response Plan is Effective?

Putting Your Plan to the Test –

You should also carry out walk throughs or table-top exercises of your plan, experience scenarios as if the real thing has happened, whilst having the right people in the room. This will not only ensure a safe and secure delivery in the event of a genuine cyber-attack but allows any issues with the plan or areas not covered to be ironed out. 

Cyber security incident response is a critical aspect of modern business operations. Planning for such an outcome helps organisations to ensure that their operations aren’t detrimentally affected. 

Another route organisations can take to ensure an effective incident response, is retaining the services of a cyber security incident response team. A retainer agreement provides the company with access to a team of experts who are ready to respond at a moment’s notice. This can be particularly valuable for companies that do not have the resources or expertise to handle a cyber security incident on their own. This also means that you have the right people on the pitch when you need them. 

We talk about what you would do at 4am if the alarm bells went off and your company was under attack, the reality is most organisations wouldn’t be aware that something was wrong until the office opened back up, and even then, cyber criminals can lay in wait for months, the Ferrari attack is a perfect example of this. One way to mitigate this is for organisations to consider a Managed SOC, 24x7x365 monitoring of your organisation to ensure incidents are responded to as they are happening and not hours later when someone turn their laptop on.  

What Else Can Organisations Do to Protect Themselves?

Carrying out risk assessments is a great way to assess your security posture at a point in time and ensure steps are taken to decrease the impact or likelihood of a successful attack. This can be carried out through a penetration test or a security posture review. By identifying vulnerabilities, companies can take steps to mitigate them and reduce the risk of a cyber-attack.

Implementing appropriate security measures involves taking steps to protect the company’s system and data. This includes, firewalls, antivirus software, organisations should also consider a Managed SOC in some instances to help improve detection and response capabilities. Organisation should introduce and implement clear policies and procedures for data access and handling, carrying out a data protection audit or gap analysis can help organisations to ensure that the data they control, and process are not only being protected by staff are following policies dictated by the company. Overall building a better security posture for the organisation.

How Can We Help?

From our experts sitting down with your team to walk through scenarios and put your plan to the test, drafting policies and plans to help mitigate the fall out, security posture reviews and penetration testing to highlight gaps and potential weaknesses to ensure that measures can be put in place to mitigate this all the way to a managed SOC and incident response retainers to ensure that your organisation has the protection it requires. We are also partnered with Mandiant to enhance our Managed SOC capabilities by expanding our threat intelligence and incident response capabilities.

With experts on hand to talk you through everything you need to know about bolstering your cyber security, CyberCrowd have a unique ability to contextualise cyber and relay it back to your business objectives to ensure that your business operations aren’t affected.

If you would like to hear more about this partnership and how we can help you on your security improvement journey, please contact us.