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Cyber incident response plan

Cyber incident response plan definition

A cyber incident response plan is a set of documented instructions that an organization follows in response to security incidents. It outlines the steps required to limit damage, increase the effectiveness of recovery, and reduce recovery time and costs.

Because each cyber incident is unique, the response plan may need to be adapted based on the situation's specifics. Moreover, a cyber incident response plan is not a one-time effort but a dynamic process. It needs to be revised and updated as the organization, technology, and cyber threat landscape changes.

See also: cyber incident, cyber resiliency, proactive defense, CSIRT, information security policy

Benefits of having a cyber incident response plan

  • Clearly defined roles. It helps clarify roles and responsibilities during an incident, ensuring a coordinated response.
  • Minimized impact and damage. Swift, effective responses to cyber incidents can help reduce the extent of the damage.
  • Business continuity. By ensuring a quicker recovery time, it helps maintain business continuity.
  • Customer trust. Proper incident response can show customers that the organization is ready to handle such situations.
  • Compliance. Some industries and regulations require businesses to have incident response plans in place.

Cyber incident response plan best practices

  • Establish an incident response team. Create a team that includes stakeholders from various departments such as IT, Legal, PR, and HR. Make sure each person understands their roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident.
  • Define what constitutes an incident. Define clearly what types of events will trigger the incident response plan. This might include unauthorized system access, data breaches, or malware detection.
  • Develop incident response procedures. Document the steps that the team should take in response to an incident. This should include steps for identification, containment, eradication, recovery, and lessons learned.
  • Create a checklist. Prepare a quick and simple checklist to provide a step-by-step guide for the initial actions to take once an incident is identified. This helps ensure that nothing is missed in the stress of the moment.
  • Communication plan. Develop a plan to manage internal and external communication during and after an incident. This plan should consider legal requirements, public relations, and other considerations.
  • Implement a post-incident review process. After every incident, conduct a post-mortem review. This will help you understand what went well and what could be improved. It is a crucial step in continually improving your incident response process.
  • Train your team. Regularly train your incident response team on the plan and their responsibilities. This can include table-top exercises, simulations, or exercises where a hired third party tries to breach your defenses.
  • Regularly review and update the plan. As your organization changes and grows, your incident response plan should evolve too. Keep reviewing and updating the plan to account for new systems, technologies, threats, and processes.
  • Collaborate with external parties. Build relationships with law enforcement, third-party vendors, and other organizations in your industry. These contacts can be crucial during and after an incident.