5 Tips for an Effective Cyber Incident Response Plan

A robust cyber incident response plan will minimize both damages and recovery time and ensure business continuity.

A robust cyber incident response plan will minimize both damages and recovery time and ensure business continuity.

Proactive measures to defend against data breaches, malware, social engineering, and other cyberattacks are crucial to enterprise cybersecurity, but there’s no such thing as a completely impenetrable system. Despite your best efforts, your company could still be hacked; do you know what to do if that happens? A cyber incident response plan gives organizations a specific set of procedures to follow after a cyberattack, allowing security teams to respond faster and more effectively.

A robust cyber incident response plan will minimize both damages and recovery time and ensure business continuity.

Unfortunately, many organizations either don’t have cyber incident response plans or have ineffective ones that aren’t clear, specific, or current. Here are five tips for developing an effective plan.

Begin with a current risk assessment

One of the most common shortfalls in cyber incident response plans is that they don’t address the specific risks the enterprise faces right now because they are developed using out-of-date or incomplete information. Be sure to conduct a thorough risk assessment before putting a plan together. Because both enterprise data environments and the cyber threat landscape are dynamic, you’ll need to conduct periodic reassessments and adjust your incident response plan accordingly.

Don’t develop your plan in a silo

According to research by McKinsey, incident response plans are often developed in organizational silos, where individual departments or business units prepare plans to mitigate targeted attacks. Unfortunately, this leaves the organization unprepared for an attack that spans multiple business units or even the entire enterprise. Make sure that all company stakeholders work together on incident response, and that the procedures address both types of attacks.

Clearly identify your stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities

Depending on an organization’s size, quite a few people can be involved in cyber incident response, from IT and security staff to legal and public relations personnel. Who is the incident commander? Who has the authority to take systems offline? Who notifies victims in the event of a breach, and how? Who handles press inquiries? Make sure that your plan specifies who is involved and what their responsibilities are.

Clearly define incident types and thresholds

Different types of attacks require different countermeasures. A high-risk or critical incident might warrant the full or partial shutdown of a system, but doing this would be overkill for a low-risk incident. Incident response plans should include a quantifiable method to classify cyber incidents according to severity.

Outline clear, specific procedures

Each incident classification category must be attached to clear, specific procedures outlining, in detail, what each stakeholder needs to do as part of the incident response. This includes internal reporting and documentation, investigation, containment and eradication, and recovery. Make sure the procedures outline when external parties, such as law enforcement, government regulators, outside legal counsel, and cyber insurers, need to be involved.

Developing a comprehensive cyber incident response plan is well worth the time and effort to minimize damages and ensure business continuity. According to the Ponemon Institute, companies that contain data breaches within 30 days can save over $1 million in recovery costs.

The cyber security experts at Continuum GRC have deep knowledge of the cyber security field, are continually monitoring the latest information security threats, and are committed to protecting your organization from security breaches. Continuum GRC offers full-service and in-house risk assessment and risk management subscriptions, and we help companies all around the world sustain proactive cyber security programs.

Continuum GRC is proactive cyber security®. Call 1-888-896-6207 to discuss your organization’s cyber security needs and find out how we can help your organization protect its systems and ensure compliance.

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