An incident response (IR) plan is a written document that outlines a set of instructions to carry out in the case of an incident or any response. An incident response plan can include instructions on how to detect, respond, and recover from any security complications. The incident response management team must consist of a team of experienced individuals who can perform these tasks. How a team responds to the incident can have a significant impact on the company’s continuity. An incident can lead to legal action, penalties, and even bankruptcy.
Why is an Incident Response plan essential?
When working on an incident response plan, you must focus on two things, the team you are working with and the procedures in place. You can have a great plan, and it sounds good on paper, but no one knows to execute the plan. That is why you would also need a good team who deeply understands the response plan. An IR plan can help a team understand what systems needs to be recovered or brought up immediately and what systems can wait a little longer.
How do you go about creating an Incident Response plan/team?
First things first, you need to prepare. You need to understand where you have risks and what is deemed to be an incident. Doing periodic Security Risk Assessments and gap assessments can help an organization determine its weak endpoints.
As mentioned previously, you need to have a great team who understands not only the technical procedures but also the business components of the organization. Proper and detailed documentation is vital. The plan should have detailed instructions on what the incident response team should do, step by step, in the event of an incident. This involves steps related to containment, forensics and remediation.
It would also help if you have the worst-case scenario imagined in your head and how you would react to it. Are your backups on the same network as your primary network? Are your backups encrypted? These are all questions that need to be answered and accounted for in your incident response plan.
Tabletop exercises are an excellent step in putting your IR team to the test and measuring response times, effectiveness, and what exactly goes on when an incident happens. Performing internal vulnerability scans and external penetration tests without the knowledge of the security/IR team can be a great way of testing the responsiveness of the team. Doing lab exercises, monthly drills and training can keep the company and team as up to date as possible. A good training tool for an incident response team is a cyber range, which can simulate an incident much like flight simulator training for pilots.
An incident response plan delivers two benefits:
- Systematic response to incidents which helps to minimize information loss or theft and service disruption.
- Use the information gained from an incident to help prevent future incidents by strengthening system protections and to be better prepared for handling future incidents should one occur.
A well created incident response plan will eliminate confusion and create a chain of command and course of action to address a data breach.
You also need to train your cyber responders and test your plan. Extensively train your cyber responders (typically your IT security team) to handle various scenarios – consider using a cyber range to provide real-life experience in identifying, detecting, containing and remediating cyber incidents.
Test your incident response plan with all departments – tech and business – with tabletop exercises.