An effective incident response plan can be an invaluable asset when it comes to detecting and mitigating cyber threats. A robust plan should include playbooks, procedures, and communication channels so that the appropriate incident response teams are informed quickly of potential incidents.

What is Cyber Security Incident Response?

Cyber security incident response (CISR) refers to the process of recognizing and responding to cyberattacks within an organization, from tracking them down to their source to taking preventative steps against future attacks.

Assessing vulnerabilities, training staff on best practices, and creating and testing an effective cybersecurity incident response plan should all be part of this initiative. Such plans should include procedures for detecting and responding to attacks as well as communication plans to inform security members, stakeholders, and authorities of an incident that has taken place and what steps must be taken next.

Organizations have several cybersecurity incident response plan frameworks available to them for creating their own plans, two of the most renowned being the NIST and SANS frameworks. The NIST incident response plan uses four steps in its four-step process to tackle detection and analysis, containment, eradication, and recovery. SANS combined those four into six critical areas including identification; containment/eradication/recovery/learn; recovery and lessons learned.

How is Preparation Relevant to Incident Response?

As part of any cyber incident response plan, preparation should always come first. This means conducting a risk evaluation to identify which assets are most critical to protect, creating communication plans, and documenting roles and responsibilities to ensure everyone knows who to contact when an incident arises and who has specific duties during any response effort.

Identification entails detecting deviations from normal behavior in systems and assessing their severity while documenting each incident that arises, such as who, what, where, when, why, and how an attack took place. This helps identify areas for future improvements to better safeguard against similar attacks.

At the core of identification is determining if an attack warrants an immediate and comprehensive response. This can be accomplished by considering its effects on both business operations and users; when senior management must be brought in; mitigation strategies taken; recovery being the last step which involves recovering all affected assets;

How to Prepare for a Cyber Incident Response

Cyber incident response plans typically contain several steps, which include identification, containment, eradication, recovery, and lessons learned. Preparation for each step is key. You want to know how to prepare for a cyber threat. Without proper preparation, the rest of the steps won’t matter much.

At this stage, your cyber incident response team will determine what kind of threat or breach they're dealing with by reviewing what information was compromised and how it was stolen, followed by moving on to the next steps in their plan.

Creating a Response Plan

As part of your incident response plan for any cyberattack, developing an incident response plan should be the first step taken. It will ensure each member of  the security team understands their role and responsibility if there is an attack as well as what to do next.

A plan should include details on which assets are most essential to the business so the team can prioritize efforts during an attack; furthermore, it should include communication channels the team should utilize with various stakeholders (e.g. department managers, senior management, customers, or the press).

Containment, eradication, and recovery are the three core phases of your incident response plan that you will focus on following an attack. Although NIST and SANS frameworks differ slightly in how they define these steps, their definitions should generally remain similar - therefore you should attempt to follow both.

One notable difference may be that NIST encourages initiating containment first in order to limit potential spread. This could help stop threats from spreading before being effectively dealt with.

Acquire the Proper Tools and Infrastructure

An incident response framework can only be as effective as its implementation tools and infrastructure are capable of. Make sure your organization is ready to face any cyberattacks by investing in information security solutions that prevent attacks from compromising sensitive data.

Improve Support Training and Skills

Your team needs to be ready to go when a cyberattack happens. It’s important to always improve your support training and skills when it comes to the incident response process. This includes using specific exercises to implement the IR plan as a test, from time to time. You will also want to make sure you have a good in-house or third-party staff to ensure you’re ready to respond to any incident.

When you are consistently improving the training of your staff and their skills, you won’t have to worry about chasing ghosts in your IT estate. Instead, your team will have the skills and training necessary to ensure they have the necessary visibility to assess the situation and respond only to actual cyber security threats.

Use Up-to-Date Threat Intelligence Capabilities

Threat intelligence is an indispensable weapon against cyberattacks. It provides valuable context about attack vectors, making it easier to quickly recognize and respond to potential threats.

Threats come in various forms, from indicators of compromise (IoCs) to malware signatures and email headers. A good threat intelligence solution will collect this data and present it in an easily identifiable format that cyber incident response teams can filter with existing processes.

How Will Proper Preparation Keep Security Strong?

With cyberattacks becoming ever more sophisticated, businesses must invest time in preparation. Not only will this strengthen your information security measures but it will allow them to respond swiftly when incidents occur.

Cyber incident response teams engage in this phase to identify the source and nature of a threat, which may involve memory analysis, digital forensics, or malware detection to uncover relevant details that will enable tracking the attacker's activities and their movements.

Once identified, your cyber incident response team can immediately work to remove it from the system by eliminating malware, disabling accounts, or cleaning affected systems. Furthermore, it's vitally important that any vulnerabilities exploited by attackers be resolved so they cannot recur again in a future attack.

Cyber incident response teams often face difficulties during this phase due to employees feeling threatened when their data has been breached. To reduce stress and ease employee concerns, it's a good idea to have an HR professional available who can manage employee concerns and guide them through the process.

If you want to make sure you have the proper Cyber Incident Response plan in place, RiskRecon by Mastercard can help you build a strong incident response plan. Try out our 30-day trial today!