Plan and Manage Your Cybersecurity Incident Response Roadmap
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Plan and Manage Your Cybersecurity Incident Response Roadmap

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

With the increasing prevalence of cyberattacks and data breaches, there is no better time to draft or review your cybersecurity incident response plan than now. 

In the first half of 2021, 1767 data breaches were reported by Risk Based Security in their Mid Year Data Breach QuickView Report, with about 18.8 billion records exposed. Sadly, these ransomware attacks are increasing fast and causing harm to affected businesses. 

And for this reason, organizations are advised to stay conscious of potential cyber-attacks and respond quickly to minimize the effect on their operations. Having a cybersecurity incident response roadmap is one way to mitigate the severe effects of cyber attacks. 

This article will discuss how to plan and manage a computer security incident roadmap and everything you need to know.

What is a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan?

A cybersecurity incident response plan is a document that instructs IT and cybersecurity experts on responding to attacks from cybercriminals such as data breaches, data leaks, ransomware attacks, or data loss. This includes preventing, detecting, containing, and recovering from a cyberattack. 

The incident response plan should be tailored to the organization’s size, scope, and goals. However, a few of the requirements are consistent across industries and regions, which are, Preparation, identification, and analysis; containment, eradication, and recovery; and post-incident activity. So businesses can create their incident response based on these requirements from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). 

Why is a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan Important?

Having a solid incident response plan can drastically mitigate the damages caused to an organization in case of a disaster. Companies without a proper incident response plan will suffer bad situations after data breaches. The following are key reasons why you need a solid incident response plan in place:

Emergency Cases: Preparing ahead of any unforeseen security incident will save your organization from damages. And this is one of the reasons you need an incident plan.

Data Protection: You can proactively protect your company’s data by having a solid incident response plan. The response plan will include several tasks and responsibilities for your security team. For instance, it could include data patching, data backups, logging and security alerts to detect malicious activity, and proper identity and access control to avoid insider threats.

Documentation: If your company suffers a severe data breach or cyberattack, you will be subjected to an external investigation or audit. And if you don’t have a proper cybersecurity incident response plan, the auditors will assume you aren’t taking the threats of the event seriously. Furthermore, some regulatory bodies also mandate the creation of an incident response plan. For instance, you will breach the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) if you do not have an incident response plan in place.

Brand Protection: An incident response strategy will also protect your brand’s image and reputation in case of a data breach. Having a solid plan will instill confidence in your investors, clients, and employees. And also, if the strategy must be implemented, it will reduce the impact of a breach on your company and reduce the reputational harm caused by the incident. 

Exposing Loopholes in Security: A solid incident response plan can also help find loopholes or faults in your company’s security practices. Many companies discovered that building and testing their incident response strategies helped improve their data security policies by creating room for improvements. Creating fake breach scenarios and conducting tests may reveal vulnerabilities in your organization’s cybersecurity architecture that can be corrected before a genuine crisis occurs.

How To Write a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), there are four phases of the incident response lifecycle: Preparation, detection, and analysis; containment, eradication, and recovery; and post-incident activities. We will consider in great detail what each of these phrases means.

Preparation: This phase focuses on preparing the organization for a cyber-attack. And it can be divided into two subcategories: creating and training a security incident response team and putting in place tools and resources to prevent cyber attacks. So, firstly, you need to identify the response team members, what their role is and when and how they should be contacted in case of any crisis. These members would be trained to respond to any security incident quickly. Secondly, incident prevention is essential. This should include regular risk assessments, data backups, patch updates, etc.

Detection and Analysis: The detection and analysis phase begins when an event occurs, and your business needs to determine how to respond. Detection includes gathering data from your systems, security tools, workers, and outsiders and recognizing signs that an event will occur in the future or has happened, or is happening now. Similarly, Analysis involves detecting a typical activity for the affected systems and determining if and how they vary from normal behavior.

Security events can come in varying ways, and preparing a plan to respond to every form of a security incident is neither realistic nor possible.

 However, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has compiled a list of some of the most prevalent attack methods that you can use as a template when deciding what to do in the case of a security breach. 

Also, when creating an incident plan, you should consider your company’s vulnerabilities and how you can prevent a criminal from using any of them to attack your business. 

Containment, Eradication & Recovery: This phase is divided into three subcategories. 

First, Containment refers to stopping the incident from spreading and depleting your resources. This usually depends on the severity of the damage the attack can cause to your organization. You should consider the need to preserve valuable evidence, potential damages, network connectivity, resources to implement your incident response plan, etc in this stage. 

The second subcategory is Eradication. This involves removing the cause of the attack, such as eliminating affected hosts, removing malware, password resets, etc. Finally, Recovery refers to restoring normalcy and taking steps to prevent the event’s recurrence. 

Post-Incident Activity: According to NIST, this phase is for learning from the cyber incident. They recommend that the organization hold a meeting with the employees and reflect on and analyze the incident, discuss the lessons learned and how to improve its response plan.