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Incident Response

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Incident Response Plan

Incident response is a process that provides organizations with strategies to react to cyber attacks. An effective incident response process detects attacks and attends to them as accurately and as early as possible.

In this article, we’ll present you with 7 reasons for putting together an incident response plan, including, to prepare you for an emergency, to ensure a repeatable process, and to preserve critical knowledge. We’ll discuss the jobs of key persons in the incident response team, such as Incident response managers and security analysts. Read on to discover best practices that will help you develop an effective incident response plan.

In this article:


What is Incident Response?

Incident response is an organizational process that allows an organization to respond to cyberattacks. The incident response process includes identifying an attack, understand its severity and prioritizing it, investigating to understand the scope of the attack, mitigating the attack, restoring operations, and taking action to ensure the same attack won’t recur.

A successful incident response process identifies attacks and deals with them as effectively and as early as possible. The objective of incident response is to bring the following to a minimum:

  • The number of systems and users affected by a breach
  • The dwell time of attackers in the corporate network
  • The damage inflicted to the organization
  • The time required to restore normal operations
  • The cost of mitigation and clean-up efforts
  • Liability and damage caused to third parties such as customers

7 Reasons You Must Put Together an Incident Response Plan

A strong incident response process can dramatically reduce the damage caused to an organization when disaster strikes. An incident response plan helps codify and distribute the incident response plan across the organization.

It’s not just about having a good plan—it’s about all relevant stakeholders knowing and agreeing to the plan, and ready to coordinate efforts around that plan when an attack occurs. These stakeholders typically include security teams, operations, legal, and executive management, but may include others such as development teams, PR, partners and customers.

Here are a few reasons you must have a strong incident response plan in place:

  • Prepares you for emergency—security incidents happen without warning, so it’s essential to prepare a process ahead of time
  • Repeatable process—without an incident response plan, teams cannot respond in a repeatable manner or prioritize their time
  • Coordination—in large organizations, it can be hard to keep everyone in the loop during a crisis—an incident response can help achieve this
  • Exposes gaps—in mid-sized organizations with limited staff or limited technical maturity, an incident response plan exposes obvious gaps in the security process or tooling, which can be addressed before a crisis occurs
  • Preserves critical knowledge—an incident response plan ensures critical knowledge and best practices for dealing with a crisis are not forgotten over time, and lessons learned are incrementally added
  • Practice makes perfect—an incident response plan creates a clear, repeatable processes that is followed in every incident, improving coordination and effectiveness of response over time
  • Documentation and accountability—an incident response plan with clear documentation reduces an organization’s liability—it allows you to demonstrate to compliance auditors or authorities what was done to prevent the breach

Key Roles in an Incident Response Team

To execute an incident response plan, you need an incident response team. The following are essential roles within the team—in a large organization the roles may be carried out by full-time employees or entire teams; in smaller organizations, they can be filled by employees with other duties who have a part-time responsibility for incident response.

  • Incident response managers—have at least two members of staff responsible for approving the incident response plan and coordinating activity when an incident occurs.
  • Security analysts—review alerts, identify possible incidents and perform an initial investigation to understand the scope of an attack.
  • Threat researchers—responsible for providing contextual information around a threat, using information from the web, threat intelligence feeds, data from security tools, etc.
  • Other stakeholders—these can include senior management or board members, HR, PR, and senior security staff such as the Chief Information Security Office (CISO)
  • Third parties—such as lawyers, outsourced security services, or law enforcement agencies.

Best Practices for Building an Incident Response Plan

Create a simple, well-defined process
An incident response plan, even if it is very well thought out, must be simple and crystal clear to be effective. Keep details, procedures and explanations to a minimum, to ensure that staff can very easily follow the plan in the urgency and confusion of a real security incident.

Create a communication strategy
Clarify who needs to be informed of a security breach, which communication channels should be used and what level of detail should be provided. There should be clear guidelines on how to inform operations, senior management, affected parties inside and outside the organization, law enforcement, the press. This is a commonly overlooked part of the incident response process.

Use an incident response plan template
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Always start your incident response plan from a template created by others in the industry, and adapt it to your specific needs. For example, you can start from this template provided by TechTarget, which includes incident scope, planning scenarios, logical sequence of events for incident response, team roles, notification and escalation procedures.

Put your incident response plan to the test
Conduct realistic drills and exercises to see how the incident response plan is carried out in practice, and be ready to adapt the plan according to lessons learned. Test your tools to ensure they are able to detect an attack as early as possible in the kill chain, and ensure the team can identify a threat and contain it before sensitive data leaves your network.

Use a centralized approach
Organizations should not be logging into multiple tools and correlating information between them during the urgency of an attack. Processes and tooling should support a centralized incident response process where an analyst can view all the information about an incident in one place.

Put incident response technology in place
Incident response tools\technology provides you with the means to eradicate discovered malicious presence and activity from your environment as well as optimize response workflows by automating repetitive tasks. They can:

  • Provide a complete picture of an attack operation, correlating data from endpoints, user behavior and network communications
  • Enable remote manual response by security analysts, such as blocking users, killing processes, restarting hosts, deleting files or changing password.
  • Enable automated response, for example automated quarantine of an endpoint when malware is discovered, or automatically stopping a malicious process that encrypts or deletes large numbers of files.

Cynet 360: an automated incident response system that puts you in control
Cynet 360 is an integrated security platform that can provide all of the above across endpoints, files, users and networks. It gives security teams full context about security incidents, helping them understand what is happening and take effective action, without needing to consult multiple tools.

Cynet also helps you take remote manual action to contain security incidents, including stopping malicious processes, deleting files, resetting passwords and restarting affected devices. It can also perform automatic containment actions such as stopping rapid encryption of files or automatically isolating endpoints infected by malware from the network.

Learn more about Cynet 360.

Cynet’s 24/7 Incident Response Team

Cynet provides an outsourced incident response team that can provide anyone, from small to medium and large organizations, with professional security staff who can execute a fast, effective incident response process.

Our team can deploy the Cynet security platform in a matter of minutes across hundreds to thousands of endpoints. They can then scan, analyse, identify and remediate threats before damage is done. The Cynet incident response team can help with:

  • 24/7 incident response—including identification, containment, eradication and recovery
  • Deep forensic investigations – collecting data to identify the scope of an attack and who is responsible
  • Threat hunting—exploring security data to proactively discover advanced threats
  • Malware analysis—analyzing malware in a sandbox to determine its characteristics and how to remediate it

Contact us for immediate help
For emergency assistance from our security experts, call us at US 1-(347)-474-0048, International +44-203-290-9051, or complete the form below.

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Automated Threat Discovery & Mitigation

Secure your all organizational assets with a single platform. Cynet 360 protects across all threat vectors, across all attack stages.


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