What Is An Incident Response Plan?


Network security incidents can happen at any time and often, unexpectedly. Being prepared for such events can help minimize their effect on ongoing work performance and a potential loss in revenue. An incident response plan is a set of instructions that helps an organization detect, respond to, and recover from network security incidents that could threaten a business’ livelihood. Although nothing can completely safeguard your organization from certain security incidents, an incident response plan helps mitigate risks and prepares you to recover as quickly as possible.

Important Facets Of An Incident Response Plan

it consultants reviewing an incident response planAn incident response plan acts as an organized approach to how a company should address and manage a security breach, cyber-attack, service outage, data loss or similar event. The main goal of an incident response plan is to have an effective way to handle a situation that limits damage and minimizes costs and recovery time. It is not only important to have such a plan for your business, but also to update it over time. Below, we will describe the various facets of an incident response plan and their importance to a business.

Establishing Roles & Responsibilities

First, businesses must outline and establish roles and responsibilities for the incident response team members. While these roles can differ slightly from business to business, most organizations can benefit from having a comprehensive incident response team that has the skills needed to manage all issues that may arise. Ideally, your team should have an incident response manager, an IT leader, security analyst, threat researcher, corporate communications expert, legal representative, risk management expert, human resources professional, C-level executives and external security forensic experts. It is important to notify all team members of their roles and responsibilities.

Implementing A Business Continuity Plan

man reviewing a business continuity plan as part of his incident response planAs part of your incident response plan, your organization should have a business continuity plan in place. Business continuity planning involves the prevention and recovery of potential threats to a company. Having a business continuity plan helps ensure that all personnel and assets are well protected and are able to be recovered in the event of a disaster. A solid business continuity plan should include arrangements that help maintain a continuous supply of critical products and services that allow a business to recover its data, assets and facility. The plan should also identify resources that support business continuity, such as information, equipment and legal counsel.

Summarizing Technologies, Tools & Resources

Within your incident response plan, there should be a comprehensive list and summary of technologies, tools and physical resources that may prove useful when responding to or recovering from an incident. There are all types of tools that can be added to your plan, such as netflow analyzers that look at traffic across border gateways in a network, or vulnerability scanners which help isolate potential risk areas and assess the attack surface area of a business for possible weaknesses. You may also choose to use other types of tools online, such as web proxies that help control access to logs and websites to reduce threats that occur over HTTP.

Map Out Network & Data Recovery Processes

man in server room performing data recovery after a data breachYour incident response plan should also have a list of critical network and data recovery processes. These processes are designed to restore and return affected devices and systems back to the normal operating environment. It is important that these processes also allow you to recover your devices and systems without the risk of leaving your business open to more data breaches. To prevent extensive disruption to business activities, your incident response plan should have processes that keep any downtime to a minimum. The plan should also state specifics, such as how long to monitor the systems following a breach.

Internal & External Communication Planning

The final key component of a detailed incident response team is how internal and external communications will be handled. When cybersecurity incidents occur, you want to ensure that the incident response team is able to adequately coordinate with a variety of internal and external professionals. The exact details of what a company should communicate and when should be kept fairly flexible based on the unique details of the incident. However, it is important for a business to determine who they will need to communicate with and be prepared for various types of questions that may be asked. Having this information before an incident occurs can help ensure that you are better equipped to handle the aftermath of a security breach.

Seek Help To Create An Incident Response Plan

As the technology sector becomes larger and more complex, more companies are becoming aware of the importance of having a detailed incident response plan in place. All organizations can benefit from an incident response plan, including small-to-mid-size organizations. To ensure that you are creating a plan that will be useful when an incident occurs, consider hiring outside advisors who know the specifics of your industry. The professionals at Hartman are not only experienced experts in their field, but also work hard to ensure that all facets of your operating procedures are in compliance with regulations.


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