Many companies are not prepared to respond to cyber-attacks. Ponemon Institute conducted an IBM survey that included at least 3600 IT and cybersecurity professionals worldwide. It found that 77% lack a cyber-incident response plan. According to the same study, 54% of organizations that have an incident response plan are not able to test it regularly.

Despite the fact that a rapid and effective response is essential to containing security incidents, there have been many instances of inadequate IR planning. Companies are less equipped to handle complex processes and coordinate an effective response to attacks when they lack adequate planning.

An incident response program contains the best practices for managing data breaches and security breaches. It addresses the major challenges that organizations face in responding to sophisticated cybersecurity threats.

Here are some of the challenges:

  • Identifying a suspected malign activity: It is difficult to detect malicious incidents that could affect normal operations.
  • Establishing an Investigation: Attacks can occur at any time, so there is little time to consider the goals of investigating and stopping it. Enterprises without an incident response plan face a greater challenge.
  • Assessing the impact of security incidents: It is difficult to determine what happened in many incident response cases. Is it a malicious cyber incident, such as a DDOS attack or malware attack? Or data loss? Inability to perform can leave a company vulnerable to cyber threats.
  • Identifying compromised system:An effective response to any information loss or damage will require quick identification of the systems affected. Cyber-attacks can lead to the loss of information systems, assets, or networks in organizations. It is possible to quickly and efficiently identify them in order to avoid extensive damage.

Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan Benefits

Businesses must achieve their primary goals, which include continued growth, expansion and profitability. Cyber-attacks are still a major obstacle to reaching set goals. Experts project different types of cyber incidents to cost businesses worldwide $10.5 trillion every year by 2025, while a data breach costs affected entities an An average of $3.86million today.

Businesses can mitigate the effects of an attack by establishing robust cybersecurity incident response plans. Here are some reasons organizations should include incident response planning into their cybersecurity processes.

1. Make sure your business survives

Businesses must be ready for anything in cybersecurity. Companies can be exposed to severe risks from multiple emergencies and disasters, like the 2020 COVID-19 epidemic. Most enterprises realized their ineptness in dealing with emerging cybersecurity incidents due to new daily norms like the mandatory work from home requirement. Enterprises can use incident response planning to determine the best security practices for responding to an attack and begin recovery. A well-executed incident response plan can help minimize the impact of malicious cyber activity.

2. Saving Business Processes

Each year brings new cybersecurity challenges that can have devastating financial consequences. Consequently, companies are faced with ever-present cybersecurity threats and potentially devastating financial consequences. For enterprises that lack adequate incident response planning, the fact that 60% of cyber-attack victims go bankrupt within six months is a warning sign.

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A large percentage of organizations that are not prepared for cybersecurity incidents could explain the high number of companies that have had to close their doors after a security breach. A lack of a documented incident plan can lead to resource wastage and longer response times.

It is important to have a computer security incident management guide that covers all possible cybersecurity scenarios. This will help you avoid costly response times and helps you save time. A process for responding to an incident is essential to cybersecurity resilience. This ensures that normal operations can continue even when there are new threats.

The 2020 IBM/Ponemon Cyber Resilient Organisation Report shows that enterprises with formal incident management solutions across their entire business environment are less likely than those without them to experience significant business disruptions due to an attack. Only 39% of companies with formal incident response plans experience disruptive cyber incidents, compared to 62% who do not have formal response plans.

The bright side is that organizations are creating and adopting more cybersecurity incident response plans. According to the IBM/Ponemon study, there was a 44% rise in companies having response plans for different types and incidents. Only 26% had standard playbooks to respond to future and anticipated incidents. 17%, however, have incident response responsibilities in specific situations. Specific events have their own incident response process. This includes ransomware, hacking, and denial-of-service attacks.

3. Defining Incident Response Responsibilities

To effectively manage and contain malicious cybersecurity events, a company needs a specialized team. These teams are often called Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) and have the sole responsibility for executing a cybersecurity plan in case of cyber-attacks or data breach. The IT staff responsible to data protection is responsible for managing multiple security incidents every day. Even a small security problem could become a serious incident. All CSIRT members need to be aware of their roles and responsibilities when addressing security incidents that could have a serious impact on information systems. In an emergency situation, the importance of security is paramount.

However, it is important to remember that just developing an indent response strategy is not enough. A CSRIT team should have the experience and skills to deal with potentially high-stress situations. It is recommended that CSRIT teams include malware analysis, security operation center (SOC), analysts, incident managers, and investigators to deal with cyber-attacks. Clear definitions of incident response responsibilities allow for precise decision-making, enable in-depth investigations, provide feedback to senior management and key stakeholders, and assure that adverse situations are under control.

Current data protection laws such as the GDPR make it mandatory that companies who suffer data breaches or other incidents that may affect sensitive data, notify them within a specified timeframe. For the GDPR, the deadline is 72 hours. However, the timeframes can change according to different regulations. Organizations must respond quickly to any incident that occurs and report the details. A rapid incident response decreases the time required to identify, diagnose and respond to an emergency. This ensures timely reporting.

Implementing a Cybersecurity Incident Response Program

Success of an incident response plan to mitigate a security breach is heavily dependent on the roles and responsibilities assigned to the incident responders. Organizations should make sure that their incident response plan has clear guidelines. SOC, incident manager and CSIRT are all required to be part of an enterprise’s response plan.

  • SOC.SOC, a company’s first defense line, operates around the clock to triage any cybersecurity alerts and incidents, gather evidence, and determine the best response. SOC analysts have full access to the organization’s cybersecurity platforms and tools, including Endpoint Detection and Response solutions and Security Incident Event Managers (SIEM), in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of cyber threats. SOC analysts can use these platforms to analyze the alerts generated by malicious events, which could include remote malicious commands or DDoS attacks. SOC analysts can escalate certain events to the incident management team if they deem them high-priority.
  • Incident Manager An incident management team’s primary function is to provide guidance and direction for dealing with escalating incidents. The incident manager understands the situation and decides how to address it. SOC analysts offer evidence, opinions, and advice to incident managers regarding ongoing incidents, which allows them to develop response guidelines. Incident managers are responsible for setting the response procedure, the responders and the timeframe. All scheduled communications and calls are also completed by the incident management.
  • CSIRT The CSIRT team is only involved with high-priority, high-profile cybersecurity events. CSIRT members are not to be confused with SOC analyst who have broad skills sets. They consist of professionals with specialized knowledge, such as malware analysis or digital forensics. The CSIRT provides technical expertise and handles security incidents that are not within the scope of the SOC team.
  • Threat intelligence: The threat intelligence team is made up of experts who are responsible for assessing and understanding the cyber threat landscape in a company. The team might scan dark web sites to see if any sensitive information has been sold due to a server attack. If the case involves a malware attack the intelligence team might perform Opensource Intelligence(OSINT) to identify the malware family and recommend ways to prevent future attacks.
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Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan Expert Tip

The planning process must include all procedures that describe the disaster recovery plan, business continuity plans, and preventive measures against similar incidents in the future. Six steps should be included in the recommended cybersecurity incident response plan for all industries.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a crucial step because it gives companies a clear plan for responding to any incident. Preparation involves creating and documenting policies to guide the response process. Security teams also create a strategy to handle incidents that is based on the priority and impact on their daily operations. The communication channels and plans that are to be used for contact with various CSIRT members will also need to be established during preparation.

Documenting all roles and responsibilities is mandatory based on the following questions: what, when? where, why, how and who. Finally, planning involves identifying and assigning clear responsibilities and ensuring that team members have access permissions in order to facilitate rapid and seamless response. Training may be required to develop technical skills for incident response.

2. Identification

Responsible incident response personnel must identify abnormal events that could indicate a security risk. SOC analysts monitor IT infrastructure and systems and collect events from various sources such as log files, security platform alerts, and error messages. The event data must be correlated to identify the incident. CSRIT members should be notified as soon as possible. It is also important to identify threat detection and preventive capabilities across all detected attack vectors.

3. Containment

The main objective of the containment stage is to limit data loss, corruption, and system damage due to ongoing cybersecurity incidents. Short-term containment reduces initial damage and prevents the incident from spreading to other systems or data. Some short-term containment measures include removing compromised servers or isolating network components. Long-term containment measures, on the other hand, are temporary solutions that allow systems to be recovered from being damaged by an attack. Long-term containment, on the other hand, focuses on addressing the root cause of the incident and removing any backdoors that were left after an attack. Long-term containment solutions may include fixing vulnerabilities and replacing the authentication that allows unauthorized access.

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4. Eradication

In a cybersecurity incident response plan, eradication refers to the removal of malware and other malicious components that attackers have introduced to restore full system functionality. Reimaging, for example, removes malicious content by wiping out and reimaging the affected hard drives and system. Applying patches to vulnerable systems or upgrading old software can also help eliminate attack vectors. Next-generation anti virus products are capable of scanning for malware and wiping it out to protect you from viruses.

5. Recovery

Organizations can use the recovery phase to restore normal business operations, restore all affected systems online, and verify that the threat has been completely eliminated during the eradication phase. For business continuity, disaster recovery solutions are essential. Business owners and other stakeholders can decide when the recovery process should begin based on the CSIRT’s guidance. SOC analysts will then continue to monitor all recovered systems and processes in order to make sure that everything is normal.

6. Lessons learned

All incident responders must collect all relevant information within a two week period after an incident to create lessons learned. Protecting against future attacks requires that we learn from our mistakes. A detailed documentation of the incident’s origin and its resolution is a great way to identify lessons learned that can be used to improve future response plans. A published incident report should follow the documentation. It will detail a step-by–step review of the incident, answering the questions who, what, where, why and how. A meeting of incident responders could be held to discuss the incident and provide lessons that can be applied immediately.

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Evangeline Christina is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Certified Ethical Hacker, Author at Cyberspecial.net. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter in a reputed news agency.

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