Effective Incident Response Planning Is Key To Reducing Risk

No organization is safe from cybersecurity incidents. Cyber incidents can cause a huge amount of damage to your company, and it’s important to have a plan in place to respond to such events. Having an effective incident response plan (IRP) is crucial to mitigating the damages of an attack and getting your business back up and running as quickly as possible. As an effective leader, you must have a plan in place to respond to these cyber incidents. It will be a key element in helping your organization mitigate its risks.

There are a few things to keep in mind before you implement your IRP. First, the IRP should include everything that might help you recover from a cyber incident and get your business back on track right away. Second, the IRP should include the steps that you will take to mitigate the damage after the incident has been detected.

What is Incident Response?

Incident response is the process of identifying, containing, and eradicating a cyberattack. An effective incident response plan will help your organization minimize the damage caused by an attack. Before you implement your IRP, it’s important to establish a process that will help you respond to cyber incidents as quickly as possible. Having a comprehensive, well-defined IRP will help you mitigate the damage from such incidents. This will help you recover from the incident and get your business back online as quickly as possible.

Who is Responsible for Incident Response?

When it comes to incident response, who is ultimately responsible? In most organizations, it falls on the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), who has a due-care and fiduciary responsibility to ensure the organization is reasonably secure and has the ability to recover quickly and continue operating with minimal impact. The CISO is the person who takes charge of managing the cybersecurity of the organization and reviewing the incident reports and deciding whether the incident should be escalated or handled through an escalation process.

Who is responsible for incident response? To properly prepare for and address incidents across the business, an organization should form an incident response team. This type of security team is responsible for analyzing security events and responding appropriately. An incident response team may include: An incident response manager, usually the director of IT, who oversees and prioritizes actions during the detection, analysis and containment of an incident. The incident response manager also conveys the special requirements of high-severity incidents to the rest of the organization.

While the CISO has the primary responsibility for incident response, it’s important to have other senior executives who can help with the implementation and execution of your incident response plan. Also, it is important to include other leaders from various business disciplines within the organization, so the critical apps, processes and resources are identified, included and prioritized in the plan. Many incident response plans start with an incident response plan template.

Why is an Incident Response Plan Important?

When it comes to cybersecurity, one of the most important things you can do is to have an Incident Response Plan in place. This plan will ensure that your team has everything they need to respond to a cyber incident and can help to minimize the damage caused by such an event.

There are a number of reasons why an Incident Response Plan is so important. First, it provides a clear and concise set of instructions for your team to follow in the event of an incident. This means that everyone knows what their role is, and what they need to do in order to help resolve the issue. Second, an Incident Response Plan can help to reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve an incident. By having a plan in place, your team will be able to identify quickly and fix the problem, minimizing the disruption to your business.

Finally, an Incident Response Plan is a valuable tool for communicating with your stakeholders. In the event of an incident, you will need to provide updates on the situation and what is being done to resolve it. An Incident Response Plan can help you to do this in a clear and concise manner, keeping your stakeholders informed and reassured that you are taking the appropriate steps to protect their data.

What are Some Common Causes of Incident Response Problems?

There are many potential causes of problems during a cyber incident response. Here are some of the most common:

1. Lack of clear and concise communication between the various response team members. This can lead to confusion and delays in taking appropriate action.

2. Lack of a well-defined and rehearsed incident response plan. This can result in response team members not knowing what their roles and responsibilities are, or what actions need to be taken in various situations.

3. Lack of coordination between the various response team members. This can lead to duplication of effort or critical tasks being overlooked.

4. Lack of adequate tools and resources. This can hamper the ability of the response team to collect effectively and analyze data or to take appropriate corrective actions.

5. Inadequate training of response team members. This can lead to team members not being able to effectively use the tools and resources at their disposal, or not knowing how to properly handle sensitive data.

6. Poorly designed or implemented processes. This can lead to response team members becoming bogged down in bureaucratic red tape, or not being able to access the information they need in a timely manner.

7. Response team members who are not properly motivated. This can lead to personnel issues arising during the response, or even leading to failure.

  • Not testing the plan on a regular basis to ensure it will be effective in helping the organization recover from a cyber incident.

It is important to avoid these and other potential issues that the plan is developed and maintained by someone who understands your business and its needs. As such, having an experienced incident response team member as part of your team is always a good idea.

Incident Response Plans vs. Business Continuity Plans

There are several distinct differences between incident response plans and business continuity plans. Here are four key ways they differ:

1. Incident response plans focus on how to deal with a specific type of event, such as a cyber-attack or data breach. Business continuity plans, on the other hand, address a wider range of potential disruptions, including natural disasters, power outages, and IT failures.

2. Incident response plans are typically more detailed and specific than business continuity plans. This is because they need to address a specific type of event and outline the steps that should be taken to mitigate the impact and resolve the issue.

3. Incident response plans are reactive in nature, while business continuity plans are proactive. Incident response plans detail how to react to and resolve a problem that has already occurred. Business continuity plans, on the other hand, aim to prevent disruptions from happening in the first place or minimize the impact if they do occur.

4. Incident response plans are typically developed and maintained by the IT department, while business continuity plans are usually the responsibility of the business continuity or disaster recovery team.

While there are several key differences between incident response plans and business continuity plans, it’s important to note that they both play an important role in ensuring that your organization is prepared for a cyber-attack or other type of incident.

Seven Steps for Effective Incident Response

It is critical to have the steps needed to recover and resume business operations in your incident response plan. Once the steps are laid out, then using these steps will help you create an incident response plan that is tailored to your specific needs that can be effectively tested and updated on an ongoing basis.

Here are seven steps to creating an effective incident response plan:

1. Identify your assets and vulnerabilities
2. Develop appropriate policies and procedures
3. Train your employees
4. Create an incident response team
5. Test your plan
6. Stay up to date
7. Communicate with stakeholders

By taking these seven steps, you can be sure that your organization is prepared to handle a cyberattack, communicate recovery efforts and minimize risk for your organization.

Testing Your Incident Response Plan

An incident response plan is a critical part of any organization’s cybersecurity posture. In the event of a breach or other cyber incident, having a well-tested plan in place can mean the difference between a manageable situation and a total disaster.

Part of your incident response planning should include the frequency in which you will test your plan. Many organizations test annually and test in the form of a table-top exercise and include people from leadership, relevant business disciplines, stakeholders and some influencers, so they can determine the potential effectiveness and determine any gaps.

Unfortunately, too many organizations wait until after an incident has occurred to start testing their response plans. This is a huge mistake. As it usually only takes one damaging incident to convince an organization of the substantial benefits and merits of a strong incident response plan.

There is no doubt that a well-tested incident response plan is one of the best tools you can have in the event of a breach or attack.

Incident Response Plans Reduce Risk for Your organization

An effective cyber incident response plan can help reduce the risk for your organization and, as a leader, it’s important to have a well-tested incident response plan in place in case of a cyber-attack. By being prepared and knowing what to do in the event of an incident, you can reduce the risk, help minimize the damage and help your organization recover as quickly as possible.

Lastly, your incident response plan, along with any testing schedule and results, should be socialized with your leadership and stakeholders, so they may assist in executing it in case of a damaging cyber incident.


Mark Lynd (CISSP, ISSAP, ISSMP), Head of Digital Business at Netsync is Top ranked global thought leader, author, speaker and practitioner for, AI, Data Center, IoT and Cybersecurity. He has been an accomplished enterprise CIO, CTO, CISO and Board Member for several large organizations. Mark has performed speaking and thought leadership engagements for Oracle, Intel, IBM, Cisco and others. He was named an Ernst & Young’s "Entrepreneur of Year – Southwest Region" Finalist and presented the Doak Walker Award on ESPN’s CFB Awards Show to a national television audience. He served honorably in the US Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion & 82d Airborne.

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