Incident Response Planning: Defend Against Cyberattacks

How Incident Response Planning Helps Contain Cyberattacks

Despite businesses pouring resources into cybersecurity, breaches aren’t going away — or even slowing down. In 2022 alone, companies reported a near-record 1802 breaches, affecting 422.1 million people.

Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of if your data will be breached, it’s a matter of when.

Incident response planning helps your organization prepare for security incidents by outlining objectives, processes, and evaluation criteria your team can follow every step of the way. Your organization’s custom plan will guide you through the aftermath of a breach, assist in recovery, and help you fix the vulnerabilities that led to the incident.

What is incident response planning?

Incident response planning means taking the time before a breach occurs to write down the actions you’ll take after it occurs. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) describes an Incident Response Plan as a written strategy, approved by your organization’s senior leadership, that guides your organization before, during, and after a confirmed or suspected security breach.

Why do you need an incident response plan?

Once a breach happens, time is of the essence. You need to stop the attack, minimize the damage, and fix the problem quickly so that you can return to work. That’s why pre-planning is essential. By determining your incident response plan before a breach occurs, you’ll know which employees are responsible for which actions, when, and how they will complete them — speeding up your recovery time.

Having a written incident response plan and securing leadership approval tells your team exactly what to do and who will do it.

How do you write an incident response plan?

Starting your incident response plan with a blank page can be difficult. Instead, begin with the guidance the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued for computer security incident response. The NIST Special Publication 800-61, Rev. 2 provides a framework for creating your own plan.

Along with NIST’s guidance, customize your incident response plan for your organization by assessing your:

  • assets and their level of risk
  • priorities
  • potential vulnerabilities
  • communication methods
  • incident response team members
  • distribution of responsibilities

And, of course, once you write your plan, you’ll need to train your team members so they can effectively communicate and mitigate when the next incident occurs.

The 6 Incident Response Phases

At a minimum, your plan should cover these phases of incident response and recovery:

  • Incident Response Planning Phase 1: Prepare
    During the first phase of incident response, ensure that your employees understand their roles and the steps they must take to respond. Practice your response procedures with exercises designed to simulate a breach. You’ll also use this phase to determine how you’ll identify breaches through testing, logs, alerts, or other procedures.
  • Incident Response Planning Phase 2: Identify
    You can receive an immediate alert that an attack may be taking place by implementing a monitoring tool or partnering an MDR provider. You may also be notified by receiving communication from another organization, law enforcement, or a customer. Once your team has evaluated the alert and determined that an attack is taking place, you’ll kick off the remainder of the incident response phases.
  • Incident Response Planning Phase 3: Control and Contain
    You know you have a breach; now it’s time to do something about it. Prevent further damage by isolating the network segment or infected servers. Document exactly what happened and the extent of the damage. If possible, preserve forensic data so you can analyze it in the Review phase.
  • Incident Response Planning Phase 4: Resolve
    Fix the vulnerability that caused the breach by removing malware, hardening and patching systems, and applying software updates.
  • Incident Response Planning Phase 5: Recover
    Return the isolated systems to regular operation and restore normal business processes.
  • Incident Response Planning Phase 6: Review
    Gather the incident and the forensic evidence you documented for the incident response team. Analyze the breach, and the team’s response, and discuss the lessons learned from the process. Revise your incident response plan based on what worked and what didn’t so you’re fully prepared for the next incident.

Protect Your Network with Incident Response Planning from OneNeck

Incident response planning can make the difference between a quick recovery from a data breach and a long, painful one. That’s why OneNeck’s security experts can work with you to prepare an incident response plan and recover from breaches faster — so you can get back to business.

OneNeck has your back. Read more about our incident response services here.

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