The Key Elements of an Incident Response Plan

The Key Elements of an Incident Response Plan

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Some companies have an incident response plan in place, while others create it only after an attack occurs. An incident response plan plays a crucial role during a cyber attack or other computer system related disasters. However, whether you have a response plan in place or planning to create it, make sure it is effective. A common mistake committed by most organizations is not testing the effectiveness of their incident response plan.

Be it a big company or a small firm, every business is vulnerable to system failure and cyber attacks. According to reports, around 77% of companies either don’t have a formal cybersecurity incident response plan or have an informal and ad hoc plan. Every business has precious data and the damage of not having a plan can be as devastating to the organization as the attack itself.

A cybersecurity incident response plan helps in identifying current risks, assess potential damage, and present the necessary steps to respond during a serious event. Organizations seem tempted to save time and money by avoiding developing emergency plans but they can save millions in damages by preparing personnel and systems for a possible data breach or system failure. As such, a detailed, predetermined incident response plan should be available to company staff and it must be timely reviewed and signed off by senior company managers.

Incident Response Plan and its key elements
According to security analysts, with increasing events of data breaches and other cyber attacks, organizations should be well-prepared and secure with an effective plan. To ensure your incident response plan is effective, make sure it includes the following 5 key elements.

  1. The first step in the formulation of a plan is developing a definition of an incident for the documentation purpose. From internal threats to outside risk from a cyber attacker, each type of threat should be outlined and defined. The plan should also clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member responding to an incident.
  2. Next, it is important to undertake a risk assessment of the data. Since every IT network is at risk, it is necessary to assess these risks, set objectives, monitor the system, and close vulnerability gaps. This risk assessment needs to be reviewed periodically as new data and files are captured on the systems. Moreover, the plan should also include giving proper training to other teams on proper security procedures.
  3. It is crucial to know the laws about breach disclosures. Make sure your plan includes details and contact of local law enforcement or a third-party consultant required to mitigate the threat.
  4. The system is at risk of new threats that are deployed each year. A common mistake is not reviewing your plan. To ensure the effectiveness of an incident response plan, it should be reviewed annually. Reviewing should include examining communications, performance objectives, crisis management, and external forensic investigation.
  5. Last, but not least, make sure to test your plan. The testing element helps in identifying the depth of penetration and enables the team to practice their response ahead of a real cyber threat. To develop a comprehensive incident response plan and test it, outside consultants and security penetration teams first identify intrusion detection failures. Data recovery services are useful for documenting outside threats and gathering the right information for legal proceedings. Moreover, they also train the internal teams to properly protect and respond to cyber attacks.