Everything You Need to Know About Incident Response Plans
The primary concern for security tools is to protect businesses from the risks of cyberspace, ranging from phishing scams and malware to network intrusion and ransomware-related attacks. But what happens if an incident occurs? Businesses must have a thorough and robust Incident Response Plan (IRP) in place to guide how they react to and recover from security incidents.
Your IRP isn’t an independent document. It’s an integral part of a strategic contingency plan, paired with business continuity plans and disaster recovery, crisis management, and life security.
How Your IRP Fits Into Your Contingency Plan
The Incident Response Plan (IRP) is one of many elements of your company’s overall contingency plan. The contingency plan is implemented at the top level, namely executive summary and policy.
Before preparing an IRP companies must address the planning and strategy phases of the contingency plan that is comprised of the Business Impact Analysis (BIA). In the event of an emergency, planning for response to incidents is just one of the many plan and action actions that are covered by the BIA. Other steps are business continuity planning, crisis management disaster recovery, as well as life safety.
The plans and actions are based on the business’s particular setting. Your BIA findings will help you through the process of planning these steps.
Overall, contingency planning is made up of seven steps:
- Develop a contingency planning policy statement.
- Conduct BIA.
- Identify preventative protocols.
- Create strategies for recovery (backups and redundancy, as well as places for being).
- Create contingency plans for contingency (who is responsible for what, who goes where in what way? ).
- Conduct tests of plans as well as training and exercises.
- Continue to follow your plans.
The Basics of an IRP
You’ll notice that steps 3, 4 and 5, of the contingency planning, will result in a detailed outline of your IRP. In the IRP you build on the outline by providing more specific details. Every incident response plan must comprise the following seven elements.
#1. Incident Identification
Your IRP must define precisely what constitutes an incident as well as what’s considered to be an incident. Each of these actions will have a distinct response, therefore determining the best way to distinguish them is vital.
#2. Incident Assessment
If you discover an incident, it is important to record how you will assess the seriousness of the incident as well as its impact on your company. Decide who will conduct the assessment and what is its timeframe.
#3. Lessons Learned
In this phase, you’ll do a post-mortem on the incident to identify the main cause and then review how well your team performed in dealing with the situation. The documentation of an incident, as well as the steps to identify it and resolution, is crucial in enhancing your IRP for the future.
#4. Annual Review & Testing
A written IRP is only effective only if you can prove that it is effective in an actual event. Reviewing your plan from beginning to finish can let you know the areas of any gaps in the plan to improve the procedure.
#5. Responses to Specific Scenarios
The preparation for specific situations that are more frequent in your particular industry in addition to incidents that could affect the entire organization that uses technology for their business This will allow you to be prepared for any situation that may arise. This is a way to ensure that your IRP is tailored to the specific requirements of your business.
#6. User Awareness & Training
Determine the information you’ll have to share with your employees with regards to your security guidelines and plan the best way to share it. Security awareness training will help employees comprehend your security guidelines and also will explain how they can follow the rules to ensure the security of your company.
#7. Cyber-Insurance Review
Review each year your IRP and then compare it to your cyber-insurance policies. You must clearly define who is accountable for the management of the insurance policy as well as what coverage is included to ensure that your plan is in line with your insurance coverage.
Why You Need an IRP
A robust incident response plan is vital for the success of any institution’s security policies. It allows you to establish specific guidelines that are evaluated and implemented as a response to security incidents to reduce the risks that could be posed before they happen. It provides a clear pathway the security staff can adhere to in the event of an incident occurring. Additionally, it lets them improve the process following every incident, ensuring that it is stronger if another incident does occur.
Information breaches are very damaging to businesses, requiring both money and time to recover from an incident. In the event of an incident, response plans are designed to ensure that operations are restored quickly and efficiently, thereby saving vital time during an event of security.
How to Test Your IRP
After you’ve created an initial draft of your incident response plan, you’re ready to test. The first step to test the effectiveness of your IRP is to run an analysis of vulnerabilities across your entire network, in search of security gaps. The purpose of this process is to only identify weaknesses, not to exploit the vulnerabilities. After the scan is completed check the results against your IRP. Does your plan cover protection for all weaknesses identified by the researchers? If not, it is time to modify your IRP to include them.
A crucial aspect in testing the IRP is to run simulations of attacks against your network. This test will let you know the effectiveness of the procedures described inside the IRP are, as well as the extent to which your team will follow the procedure. When you have completed the exam, have a meeting with those who were involved in the incident response to analyze what was successful and what needs to be improved for the next time. Ideally, this kind of exercise should be performed each year, if not more than.
Do you have an up-to-date Incident Response Policy? Download the Incident Response Plan template today to see the extent to which your IRP can withstand the cyber threats of today.