The 6 Phases of an Incident Response Plan


purpose of an incident response planThe purpose of an incident response plan is to prepare organizations for a possible security incident that could occur without notice. Having a strategic plan in place to address cybersecurity problems is crucial to preventing the financial and reputational consequences that can follow a breach of privacy incident. There are six main phases involved in an incident response plan. Each phase is important and should be completed in full before progressing to the next phase.

The Phases

1. Preparation

Among the most important of all the steps in an incident response plan is the preparation stage. During the preparation phase, organizations should establish policies and procedures for incident response management and enable efficient communication methods both before and after the incident.

Employees should be properly trained to address security incidents and their respective roles. It is important for companies to develop incident response drill scenarios that are practiced on a regular basis and modified as needed based on changes in the environment. All aspects of an incident response plan, including training, software and hardware resources and execution, should be fully approved and funded before an incident occurs.

2. Identification

The identification phase of an incident response plan involves determining whether or not an organization has been breached. It is not always clear at first whether a breach or other security incident has occurred. In addition, breaches can originate from a wide range of sources, so it is important to gather details. When determining whether a security incident has occurred, organizations should look at when the event happened, how it was discovered and who discovered the breach. Companies should also consider how the incident will impact operations, if other areas have been impacted and the scope of the compromise.

3. Containment

Incident Response Plan — Containment PhaseIf it is discovered that a breach has occurred, organizations should work fast to contain the event. However, this should be done in the appropriate way and does not require all sensitive data to be simply deleted from the system. Instead, strategies should be developed to contain the breach and prevent it from spreading further. This may involve disconnecting the impacted device from the internet or having a back-up system that can be used to restore normal business operations. Having remote access protocols in place can help ensure that a company never loses access to their system.

4. Neutralization

Neutralization is one of the most crucial phases of the incident response process and requires the intelligence gathered throughout the previous stages. Once all systems and devices that have been impacted by the breach have been identified, an organization should perform a coordinated shutdown.

To ensure that all employees are aware of the shutdown, employers should send out notifications to all other IT team members. Next, the infected systems and devices should be wiped clean and rebuilt. Passwords on all accounts should also be changed. If a business discovers that there are domains or IP addresses that have been affected, it is essential to block all communication that could pose a risk.

5. Recovery

The recovery phase of an incident response plan involves restoring all affected systems and devices to allow for normal operations to continue. However, before getting systems back up and running, it is vital to ensure that the cause of the breach has been identified to prevent another breach from occurring again. During this phase, consider how long it will take to return systems to normal, whether systems have been patched and tested, whether a system can be safely restored using a backup and how long the system will need to be monitored.

6. Review

final step in an incident response planThe final step in an incident response plan occurs after the incident has been solved. Throughout the incident, all details should have been properly documented so that the information can be used to prevent similar breaches in the future. Businesses should complete a detailed incident report that suggests tips on how to improve the existing incident plan. Companies should also closely monitor any post-incident activities to look for threats. It is important to coordinate across all departments of an organization so that all employees are involved and can do their part to help prevent future security incidents.

Contact the Risk Management Consulting Experts at Hartman Executives

As security breaches and system hacks become more common due to advancements in technology, organizations must go the extra mile to protect their systems and devices. An incident response plan is an effective way to swiftly address security problems and gain knowledge that can be used to prevent repeat security problems. Organizations should also reach out to a risk management consultant to learn the best ways to protect and restore their business. The risk management consulting experts at Hartman Executive Advisors have extensive experience working with clients to assess their unique cybersecurity risks, as well as planning and implementing solutions to address these security issues.


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