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Incident Response Planning : The 7 Stages of Incident Response – Part 2

In the modern age of cybersecurity, more threats are evolving to subvert modern detection methods, making prevention a bigger focus than ever before. However, many organizations still don’t have a formal response plan to combat incidents and recover effectively.

We previously discussed the first main steps you’ll need in your incident response plan, including preparing for anything, identifying and reporting unusual behavior and containing the threat. While these are critical processes, your work doesn’t stop there. In this article, we will look at the remaining necessary steps to take in your incident response strategy to minimize damage and recover effectively.

4. Eliminate the Threat

Once you have the issue contained, it’s time to eradicate it from the affected systems. Your ultimate goal should be to bring the system back online with the confidence that the assets have been thoroughly cleaned and are ready for business use. A white paper from The SANS Institute suggested that teams continually document all of the actions taken during the eradication process. This will not only help determine the cost of man hours and other resources, but it will also ensure that the proper steps were followed to remove the issue.

Incident response teams must contain the threat and ensure the systems are clean.

Incident response teams must contain the threat and ensure the systems are clean.

Organizations can leverage immediate incident response measures to restore the system back to how it was before the breach. Teams will need to follow this up with patches and disable unused services to limit the threat surface and prevent future attacks. Before the system is brought back online, it must be scanned thoroughly to ensure that any latent malware is removed. If malware remains, it will be necessary to identify it, re-contain it and mitigate it effectively.

5. Spur Recovery Efforts

Recovering from a cyberattack isn’t easy, and any misstep could cost you. Organizations not only have to handle the monetary costs of downtime and missed revenue opportunities, they also must cope with reputational damage, loss of customer trust and compliance consequences. Needless to say, remediating a breach and managing it appropriately will heavily impact your recovery efforts.

After the incident response team has eradicated the malware, don’t take any chances. Set up a production environment to test, monitor and validate the systems that are being put back into place. CSO Online’s Anthony Caruana noted that it will be important to prioritize when to bring systems into production and how long it’s necessary to monitor them for any signs of abnormal activity. Continuous monitoring system usage to detect breaches will be the best course of action. These tools will ensure that your most valuable assets are protected and alert teams to any problems in real time.

“The most important thing is what you took out of the situation.”

6. Take Stock of What You Learned

A breach can certainly cause havoc and damage to any organization, but the most important thing is what you took out of the situation. Perhaps the incident introduced a new threat that you didn’t know about, or revealed critical holes in your capabilities that weren’t apparent before. As the business moves back into normal operations, it’s still necessary to look back and recognize concrete lessons that you can learn from the incident. This step is particularly important to help you incorporate additional activities and knowledge within your incident response plan to improve your defenses and produce better outcomes in the future.

Follow-ups after a cyber incident will be critical to enforcing the plan across the organization and accounting for necessary resources. CSO Managing Editor Ryan Francis noted that follow-ups might include where to spend money to detect and prevent attacks, as well as which performance indicators need to be adjusted. Processes and priorities must be communicated across departments to improve reactions to security incidents in the future, rather than relying solely on IT and security departments.

7. Test, Revise and Test Again

Cyber threats don’t take a break, and neither should you. Even though your incident response team might have successfully navigated a security incident, it’s important not to get complacent. Organizations should be continually evaluating their incident response plan through test simulations and training sessions. Tabletop exercises and team training can ensure that employees know their roles when a real breach occurs, as well as reveal critical weak points and risk factors.

Feedback from these processes will be crucial to revising the incident response plan. The strategy should be evaluated yearly to incorporate new business regulations and accommodate business growth. The plan might need to be looked at more frequently if the organization is scaling quickly.

Create an Effective Incident Response Plan

By following these seven steps, your incident response plan will guide your employees through the process to contain, mitigate and recover from cyber security incidents. The incident response plan must include the right tools, training and layered security approach to continuously monitor systems for unusual behavior and detect potential breaches. With these elements combined, your incident response plan can be used as a preventive measure to minimize potential damage and ensure similar incidents don’t occur in the future.

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.