Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan

Incident Response

Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan- Many businesses are ill-equipped to detect, respond to, and defend themselves against cyber-attacks. According to a poll of at least 3,600 IT and cybersecurity professionals conducted by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, 77 percent of businesses lack a cyber incident response strategy. According to the same report, 54% of firms with an incident response plan in place do not have mechanisms in place to test it on a regular basis.

Despite research suggesting that an effective, timely response is critical to containing bad security situations, there have been recurrent deficiencies in sufficient IR preparation over time. Companies are less equipped to manage complicated processes required to coordinate an efficient response to an attack due to insufficient response planning.

An incident response plan, on the other hand, provides the best practises for dealing with security or data breaches. It addresses the major roadblocks that prevent businesses from responding to complex cybersecurity threats.

The following are some of the difficulties:

  • Detecting suspected malicious activity: One of the most difficult aspects of proper incident response and containment is detecting malicious incidents that can disrupt routine operations.
    Setting up an investigation: Attacks are frequently unannounced, leaving little time to consider the objectives for researching and countering them. Enterprises without a clear incident response plan face a greater problem.
  • Determining the severity of a security breach: In many incident response situations, there isn’t enough time to figure out what happened. Is a hostile cyber event, for example, caused by a DDOS assault, malware attack, data loss, or system hack? A company’s incompetence exposes it to additional cyber dangers.
  • Identifying compromised systems: It is critical to quickly identify the systems that have been compromised in order to respond effectively and prevent further damage or data loss. After a cyber-attack, businesses must assess whether information systems, assets, and networks have been compromised. Detecting them allows for a quick, coordinated response to minimise harm.

Benefits of a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan

Any company’s main objectives are to maintain its current level of growth, expansion, and profitability. Cyber-attacks, on the other hand, continue to be one of the most significant roadblocks to accomplishing specified goals. Experts estimate that different forms of cyber disasters will cost organisations globally $10.5 trillion per year by 2025, compared to $3.86 million for a data breach today.

Fortunately, implementing comprehensive cybersecurity incident response policies can assist firms in mitigating the effects of an attack. Some of the reasons why firms should include incident response planning in their daily cybersecurity activities are as follows:

Ensure Business Survival

In the age of cybersecurity, business owners must anticipate and be prepared for the worst. Multiple disasters and emergency occurrences, such as the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, might expose businesses to substantial dangers. Most businesses have realised their unpreparedness in responding to rising cybersecurity issues as a result of new daily routines such as mandated work from home regulations. Enterprises can use incident response planning to identify applicable standard security procedures for containing and recovering from an attack. Furthermore, a well-implemented and practised incident response plan can help to mitigate the effects of harmful cyber activity.

Saving Business Processes

Every year, new cybersecurity threats emerge, posing significant financial risks. As a result, more businesses are having to deal with the threat of an assault at any time. The fact that at least 60% of businesses that suffer a cyber-attack go out of business within six months should serve as a wake-up call to businesses that lack adequate incident response plans.

Nearly half of corporations lack cybersecurity incident response preparation, which could explain the high number of businesses closing down after a security breach. When responding to an attack, the lack of a defined incident response plan frequently results in resource waste and a lengthier mitigating time.

In this sense, keeping a computer security incident handling guide for common cybersecurity scenarios that a business can experience saves time when dealing with unanticipated disasters. The development of cybersecurity resilience requires an incident response strategy to ensure that normal operations continue even in the face of an ever-increasing threat landscape.

According to the IBM/Ponemon Cyber Resilient Organization Report for 2020, businesses that implement formal incident response systems across their whole business environment are less likely to experience severe business disruption as a result of a cyberattack. According to the survey, only 39% of businesses with formal incident response systems encounter disruptive cyber occurrences, compared to 62% of businesses without such plans.

On the plus side, firms are increasingly developing and implementing cybersecurity incident response plans. According to the IBM/Ponemon report, firms are keeping reaction plans for various types of catastrophes up 44 percent. Only 26% of firms, on the other hand, have typical playbooks in place for responding to predicted and future issues, and only 17% have incident response responsibilities for specific scenarios. The techniques and mitigation measures for individual attacks, such as ransomware attacks, phishing attacks, or denial of service assaults, are detailed in incident response protocols for specific events.

Defining Incident Response Responsibilities

To properly manage and contain a harmful cybersecurity event, a corporation needs a specialist incident response team. When faced with cyber-attacks or data breaches, the teams, also known as Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs), are solely responsible for carrying out a pre-determined cybersecurity incident response strategy. The IT team in charge of data security, for example, deals with many data security incidents on a regular basis. A minor security issue could evolve into a major incident. All members of the CSIRT team must be aware of their individual roles and duties in mitigating the security incident’s impact on sensitive data and information systems in such an event. When the stakes are high, the members of the incident response team must execute their security training flawlessly.

It is important to highlight, however, that having an independent reaction strategy is insufficient. A CSRIT team must have the necessary experience and abilities to deal with potentially high-stress situations. When dealing with a cyber-attack, it is advised that malware analysis, security operations centre (SOC) analysts, incident management, and forensics investigators be included at the very least. A precise description of incident response roles enables for correct decision-making, supports in-depth investigations, and gives feedback and confidence to senior management and key stakeholders that an adverse situation is under control.

Furthermore, contemporary data protection rules, such as the GDPR, require firms that experience a data breach or any other incident involving sensitive data to notify it within a certain timeframe. The time limit for the GDPR is 72 hours, although it varies depending on the law. The bottom line is that businesses must notice the issue and respond appropriately in the shortest amount of time possible before compiling a comprehensive report on how it was handled. To ensure timely reporting, an incident response shortens the time it takes to identify, diagnose, and respond to an issue.

Executing a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan

The tasks and responsibilities of incident responders play a significant part in the success of an incident response plan in minimising a security breach. As a result, organisations should make sure that an incident response plan includes clear instructions for carrying it out. When executing a response plan, most companies require the involvement of the SOC, incident manager, CSIRT, and threat intelligence teams.

  • SOC: A security operations centre (SOC) is a company’s first line of defence that works around the clock to evaluate all cybersecurity events and alerts, gather evidence of an incident, and determine the best course of action. To have a thorough understanding of existing cyber threats, SOC analysts have access to an organization’s cybersecurity technologies and platforms, such as Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions and Security Incident Event Manager (SIEM). SOC analysts utilise the platforms to examine generated alerts that indicate harmful occurrences ranging from remotely executed malicious instructions to DDoS attacks. Certain occurrences are escalated to the incident management team by SOC analysts if they are deemed high-priority incidents.
  • An incident management team’s principal responsibility is to provide rules and instructions for reacting to rising occurrences. An incident manager welcomes and comprehends the situation, identifies and brings all relevant parties together, and selects the best course of action for dealing with the security occurrence. SOC analysts provide evidence, opinion, and recommendations to incident management in order for them to define response parameters for an ongoing issue. Incident managers, among other things, define the response procedures to be followed, the responders who will be assigned to specific responsibilities, and the schedule for completing them. All scheduled communications and calls are also completed by incident management.
  • CSIRT: CSIRT members are only involved in high-priority and high-profile cybersecurity incidents. CSIRT members are specialists with particular knowledge and skills, such as digital forensics or malware analysis, and are not to be mistaken with SOC analysts who have wide skill sets. The CSIRT is in charge of providing technical expertise, and it is usually the SOC team members who address security issues.
  • A threat intelligence team is made up of experts that are entrusted with assessing and comprehending a company’s cyber threat landscape. For example, the team could search dark web platforms to see whether any sensitive data that has been compromised as a result of a server attack is for sale. If the case involves a malware attack, the intelligence team may use Opensource Intelligence (OSINT) to identify the malware family and offer countermeasures to prevent future targeted attacks.

Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan Expert Tips

For an incident response to be effective, all protocols detailing the disaster recovery plan, business continuity plan, and actions to prevent such catastrophes in the future must be captured throughout the planning phase. The six actions outlined below should be included in most firms’ suggested cybersecurity incident response plans across all industries.


Preparation is critical because it provides a corporation with a clear strategy for comprehensively reacting to an incident. Developing and documenting policies to guide the response process is part of the planning step. In addition, security teams develop a strategy for dealing with incidents depending on importance and impact on everyday operations. The communication strategies and channels that describe who is accountable for contacting specific CSIRT members are also defined during preparation.

All duties and responsibilities must be documented using the questions what, when, where, why, how, and who. Finally, planning entails defining the reaction team and assigning defined duties to team members, as well as ensuring that they have necessary access permissions to facilitate speedy and seamless replies. Initial and ongoing training processes to equip technical skills required for incident response processes may be part of team development.


During the identification phase, responsible incident response workers must look for unusual events that could signal a security breach. SOC analysts collect and evaluate events from many sources, such as security platform alerts, error messages, and log files, to monitor all deployed IT infrastructure and systems. They must then correlate the event data in order to identify the situation and immediately notify CSRIT members. The identification process also includes determining threat detection and prevention capabilities across detected attack channels.


The containment step’s main goal is to prevent data loss, corruption, or system damage as a result of a continuing cybersecurity incident. Short-term containment also reduces initial harm, preventing the incident from spreading to other systems and data. Taking down hacked servers and isolating vulnerable network components are examples of short-term containment techniques. Long-term containment, on the other hand, entails using interim remedies to restore systems that have been disrupted by the attack. Long-term containment, on the other hand, focuses on deleting backdoors left behind by an attack, compromised accounts, and addressing the fundamental cause of the issue. Patching vulnerabilities or replacing failed authentication that allows unauthorised access attacks, for example, could be part of a long-term containment solution.


In a cybersecurity incident response strategy, eradication entails eliminating malware or other malicious components introduced by attackers to enable complete system restoration. Reimaging, for example, wipes and reimagines compromised hard drives and systems to eliminate harmful content. Attack vectors can also be eliminated by following standard security practises, such as applying fixes to vulnerable systems and replacing obsolete software. Malware scanning with next-generation antivirus software may detect and remove malware, providing virus protection.


The recovery phase aids firms in resuming normal business operations, bringing all affected systems back online, and ensuring that the threat was totally eliminated during the eradication phase. To ensure complete business continuity, disaster recovery solutions are essential. As a result, depending on the CSIRT’s recommendations, business owners and stakeholders have the authority to decide when the recovery process should begin. The recovered systems and processes must subsequently be continuously monitored by SOC analysts to confirm that all occurrences are normal.

Lessons learned

All incident responders must assemble crucial information about the incidents within a two-week window after the issue has occurred in order to develop lessons learned. Lessons acquired are an important part of preventing future attacks. A thorough record of how the issue began and how it was handled is an effective strategy to identify lessons learned and ensure appropriate reaction measures in future incidents. Following the documentation, a public incident report should explain a step-by-step review of the entire incident, answering the questions how, who, where, why, and what. Finally, a lessons learned meeting involving all event responders could provide the lessons that need to be implemented right away.

Jennifer Thomas
Jennifer Thomas is the Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Cybers Guards. Prior to that, She was responsible for leading its Cyber Security Practice and Cyber Security Operations Center, which provided managed security services.