Improving Cyber Readiness via Incident Response Planning

True cyber readiness means developing a strong incident response plan. With preventative measures in place, organizations can reduce cyber risk, financial loss, reputation damage, and data loss.

Particularly during COVID-19, when millions of people have been forced to work remotely, cybersecurity’s importance is at an all-time high. With multiple and varied technologies in use outside the workplace (with non-standardized levels of encryption), many organizations are scrambling to assume a more proactive approach to preventing and dealing with data breaches and security incidents— in other words, strengthening their cyber readiness.

Developing a comprehensive incident response plan (IRP) is integral to bolstering cyber readiness. The IRP should cover how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from security incidents. It should be developed with your specific business needs, risk profile, and industry regulations in mind, as well.

There are four key components of an IRP:

  1. Preparation— This includes performing risk assessments of your cyber readiness and resiliency over networks, devices, applications, and systems; defining roles and responsibilities; and establishing channels of communication.
  2. Detection and analysis— Cyber incidents are difficult to detect for most organizations. Utilizing and understanding alerts from intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), antivirus software, and log analyzers is crucial to discovering potential incidents before they become problematic. After an event has been verified as real, IT staff can then analyze its impact on functionality, information, and recovery initiatives.
  3. Containment, eradication, and recovery— The IRP should guide staff toward responding to each incident in the most suitable way. How much time is needed to mitigate the threat? What is the potential damage? The answers to these questions will help shape the right action plan. Once the threat has been removed, the IRP should then guide staff through the recovery process. Steps can include restoring data from backups, changing passwords, or replacing compromised files.
  4. Post-incident improvement— The IRP should evolve over time to reflect lessons learned from security incidents experienced. Staff should discuss how to avoid similar incidents in the future and continuously fine tune the incident response process.

Improving cyber readiness is a long-term goal that requires a concerted effort. With a comprehensive IRP in place, organizations will have the knowledge and foresight to decrease cyber risk and the impact of malicious security incidents, such as ransomware attacks.