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Top 8 Incident Response Plan Templates and Why You Should Automate Your Incident Response

October 4, 2019
Last Updated: February 8, 2024
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What Is an Incident Response Plan Template?

An incident response plan template is a pre-structured format you can use to create your organization’s incident response plan. An incident response plan helps organizations respond effectively when a security incident occurs. It is a detailed document outlining the necessary steps to take before, during, and after an incident to mitigate damage and recover swiftly.

An incident response plan provides a systematic approach to managing the aftermath of a security breach or cyber attack. It aims to handle the situation in a way that limits damage and reduces recovery time and costs. An incident response plan template makes it easier to create a template by providing a framework that allows you to learn from the experience of other organizations or security professionals.

By taking an existing incident response template and adapting it to the unique needs and circumstances of any organization, you can quickly create an effective incident response plan.

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Incident Response Plan

  • A comprehensive checklist of IR action items
  • A detailed roles & responsibilities matrix
  • A robust framework to customize for your needs

Components of an Incident Response Plan Template

Here are the key components typically included in an incident response plan template:

  • Purpose and scope: This section defines why the plan is in place and the extent of its coverage. This can include preventing incidents, minimizing their impact, and recovering. The scope defines the types of incidents that the plan covers, the systems and data included, and the personnel who are part of the plan.
  • Threat scenarios: This section identifies and describes the potential incidents that may affect the organization. These threat scenarios can range from malware attacks and system hacks to natural disasters that could disrupt IT services.
  • Roles and responsibilities: This section outlines the stakeholders involved in the incident response process and their specific duties. These can include incident response team members, IT staff, management, and external entities.
  • Incident response process: This section provides a step-by-step guide on how to respond to an incident, from detection to containment, eradication,  recovery, and post-incident review

Eight Incident Response Plan Templates

When building your incident response plan, it is much easier to start with a template, remove parts that are less relevant for your organization, and fill in your details and processes. Below are several examples or templates you can download for free, which can give you a head start.

1. Cynet Incident Response Plan Template

Created by: Cynet
Pages: 16
Main sections:

  • Incident Response Team Responsibilities
  • Testing and Updates
  • Incident Response Process Overview
  • Incident response checklists: Incident Discovery and Confirmation, Containment and Continuity, Eradication, Recovery, Lessons Learned

Download .DOC file


Created by: National Institute of Standards and Technology
Pages: 79
Main sections:

  • Organizing Incident Response
  • Handling Incidents
  • Coordination and Information Sharing
  • Incident Handling Scenarios

Download PDF file

Learn more about NIST incident response

3. Berkeley University

Created by: Berkeley University
Pages: 7
Main sections:

  • IT systems overview
  • Security definitions
  • Contact people
  • Incident response procedures

Download .DOC file

4. IltaNet Incident Response Plan

Created by: International Legal Technology Association
Pages: 5
Main sections:

  • Incident response team
  • Incident response notifications
  • Employee responsibilities
  • Types of incidents
  • Definition of a security breach
  • Classification procedure for potential incidents
  • Response procedure
  • Recovery
  • Periodic testing and remediation

Download .ASHX file

5. Thycotic Incident Response Template

Created by: Thycotic
Pages: 19
Main sections:

  • Roles, responsibilities and contact info
  • Threat classification
  • Compliance and legal obligations
  • Phases of incident response and actions taken.

Get .DOC file (requires registration)

6. Sysnet Security Incident Response Plan

Created by: Sysnet
Pages: 11
Main sections:

  • How to recognize a security incident
  • Roles and responsibilites
  • External contacts
  • Payment cards—what to do if compromised
  • Incident response steps
    • Report, investigate, inform
    • Maintain continuity
    • Resolve and recover
    • Review
  • Specific incident response types
    • Malware
    • Tampering with payment terminals
    • Unauthorized wireless access points
    • Loss of equipment
    • Noncompliance with security policies
  • Testing and periodic updates for IR plan

Get .DOC file (requires registration)

7. California Government Department of Technology Incident Response Plan

Created by: California Government Department of Technology
Pages: 4
Contents: 17-step incident response procedure, referencing more detailed plans for specific incident types such as malware, system failure, active intrusion attempt.

Download .DOC file

8. I-Sight Incident Response Template

Created by: I-Sight
Pages: 6
Main sections:

  • Purpose
  • Scope
  • Definitions and examples of incidents
  • Roles & responsibilities
  • Incident response stages and procedures

Get .DOC file (requires registration)

The Importance of Automated Incident Response

Incident response templates and procedures are crucial, but they are not enough. In most organizations there is a critical shortage of security staff. It is impossible to review all alerts, not to mention investigate and respond to all security incidents. Statistics show that the average time to identify and remediate a breach is over 100 days.

To help address this problem, the security industry is developing tools to perform automated incident response. An automated tool can detect a security condition, and automatically execute an incident response playbook that can contain and mitigate the incident. For example, upon detecting traffic from the network to an unknown external IP, an incident playbook runs, adding a security rule to the firewall and blocking the traffic until further investigation.

By supplementing manual incident response with automated playbooks, organizations can reduce the burden on security teams, and respond to many more security incidents, faster and more effectively.

Automated Incident Response with Cynet

Cynet provides a holistic solution for cybersecurity, including Cynet Response Orchestration, which can automate your incident response. You define automated incident response playbooks, with pre-built remediation procedures for multiple attack scenarios. When an attack scenario occurs, the relevant playbook is automatically executed. Only if there is no matching playbook, the incident is pushed to the security team for a manual response.

Cynet Response Orchestration can address any threat that involves infected endpoints, malicious processes or files, attacker-controlled network traffic, or compromised user accounts.

Learn more about Cynet Response Orchestration.

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