What is incident response?
Incident response refers to the strategy and measures organizations take after a cyberattack to minimize damage to their operations, data, and infrastructure. Incident response examples include recovering data after a ransomware attack, stopping insiders or hackers from leaking sensitive data, rebuilding cybersecurity measures, and notifying authorities and customers about data breaches. To address the various cybersecurity risks, a good deal of planning is required to create incident response measures for different scenarios.
Importance of incident response
- To prevent cyberattacks, you have to be prepared in the event of one. You need to review existing implementation and historical records, data backups, and compliance requirements. These and other important aspects need to be planned and collated in a dynamic incident response plan.
- If data has been stolen or leaked, the organization must do what it can to prevent it from being exposed on the dark web and make the details of the breach public. This step and other legal stipulations must be met with to avoid fines, loss of trust, and loss of business. Organizations need to notify stakeholders and customers when their data has been compromised.
- Incident response is necessary to recover after an attack. A good incident response will prevent business operations from being suspended or bottlenecked and help the organization recover from an attack quickly. When the steps to be taken immediately after an incident are clearly defined, it is easier to mitigate the damage.
- Incident response also involves recording the events leading to the attack. Audit trails serve as useful records to prevent the same attack from reoccurring. Effective incident response requires foresight and planning; So a sound incident response plan is essential.
What is an incident response plan?
An incident response plan prescribes the approach to be followed by businesses after a cyberattack. An effective incident response plan provides measures to tackle an ongoing crisis and prevent the same attack from recurring. It has detailed instructions for the IT security team and other concerned teams on how to detect, respond to, and avoid cyberattacks in the future.
How to create an effective incident response plan
The National Institute of Standards and Technology and SysAdmin, Audit, Network, and Security Institute have developed industry-standard incident response frameworks that are widely followed. Both frameworks have similar components, which are summarized below:
- 1. Planning and preparation
Draft an organizational policy defining the right people with the right duties along with the required time limit to respond. Include all steps from incident detection to post-incident documentation to guide the teams involved. Communicate with the admin, security, and privacy teams regarding the policy and provide adequate security training.
- 2. Incident detection and notification
Implement security incident response software tools to detect system and network intrusion instantly. Watch out for ransomware indicators using ransomware detection software. Prevent data theft and manipulation attempts by insiders using insider threat monitoring software.
- 3. Containment, eradication, and response
Once an attack has been detected, all efforts need to be focused on stopping the further spread of the attack throughout the network and limiting the damage done. Cut off the source of the malware infection by isolating the infected device or disabling the compromised user account.
- 4. Recovery
Start the recovery phase once you've ensured that the cyberattack has ended and affected devices and user accounts are rid of malware, if any. Take stock of stolen or breached data and inform the concerned stakeholders. Restore breached security measures and data backups to resume normal operations.
- 5. Incident trail documentation
Document all the events during and after the incident, including the source of infection or attack, response to contain the attack, and remediation measures implemented. This will help meet the legal requirements of data privacy compliance and help highlight data security loopholes in the network.