What Is Your Incident Response Plan?

By: Marco
August 10, 2022

What is your Incident Response Plan? An Incident Response Plan (IRP) should contain everything your organization will do in the event of a security incident. A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) and an IRP are essential components of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

What’s the Difference Between an IRP, a DRP, and a BCP?

An IRP helps your organization respond to a security incident quickly in order to avoid disruption. If normal operations have already been disrupted, that’s when a BCP will dictate your next course of action to keep your organization running. A DRP will direct your IT team to quickly restore normal operations of critical systems, tools, and other infrastructure.

Why Do You Need a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan?

While physical security is still vitally important, cybersecurity is many organizations’ chief concern and perhaps their greatest vulnerability. In one 12-month-period, 42% of small businesses experienced some form of a cyberattack. If you don’t think your organization has faced this problem so far, you might be wrong and just do not know it yet. Data from IBM suggests that it can take organizations an average of 280 days to identify and contain a cyberattack.

What Should Your IRP Contain?

Although no two organizations will have the same IRP, plans will include common components as outlined by guidance from trusted organizations such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or the SANS Institute.

Plans should detail strategies to help your organization prepare, identify, contain, and remediate an incident while eliminating the risk of further damage. Your plan should also identify who’s responsible for notifying anyone affected by the incident, potentially including end-users, customers, third-party providers, and law enforcement. Finally, your plan should mandate a post-incident review.

How To Create and Update Your Incident Response Plan

1. Identify and Train Your IR Team

Decide who will be on your incident response team, including IT personnel, security personnel, leadership, and potentially, lawyers and communication experts. Clearly state each position’s role and responsibilities in the event of a security incident.

2. Assess Common Threats and Initial Responses

No single plan can anticipate anything and everything, so you should identify those assets that are most vital to your business, what incidents would require a high-level response, and what assets and incidents you’d like your plan to focus on. You should also know how your team will detect and escalate incidents, including when and how to involve additional parties.

3. Define Containment Strategies

Containment and investigation strategies, including evidence preservation, should be clearly mapped out in your plan. Any additional tools and resources needed for these steps should be identified and acquired.

4. Plan a Quick Recovery

Outline how you will eradicate the threat from your system once it’s contained and how you’ll be able to recover quickly.

5. Test Your Plan

While your physical security risks may not change often, cybersecurity risks are evolving rapidly. You should conduct an in-depth review following any significant security incident to identify areas of improvement. It’s also wise to revisit your plan and simulate certain types of incidents to stress-test your plan's effectiveness. Any lessons learned from incidents, whether real or simulated, should be incorporated into your plan moving forward.

How Should You Evaluate Your Risk?

Cybersecurity is rapidly becoming a highly specialized profession. So if you aren’t sure what systems, data, and tools are most at risk, or if you haven’t re-examined your risk in the past few years, it might be best to ask for help from an expert.

Marco offers an in-depth cybersecurity assessment that can reveal any gaps in your security posture, including missing technologies, processes, or common misconfigurations. This assessment is based on best practices outlined in the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF), which is also frequently updated to respond to current threats.

This assessment can help you create an IRP and a DRP, and it can also help you understand what upgrades and tools will help you significantly reduce your risk. After all, while having a BCP, an IRP, and a DRP in place is extremely helpful, it’s even better if your organization never has to use them. 

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Topics: Security