There is no avoiding it: you will be the target of a cyberattack.

This attack could be a large-scale cybersecurity breach involving sophisticated hacks, malware, or data theft. No matter the size or type of incident, having a well-planned and tested response process is essential to minimizing damage and ensuring business continuity.

A well-designed incident response (IR) plan is essential for minimizing the damage from a data breach. It should be a combination of people, processes, and technology that are documented, tested, and trained for.

An incident response plan is essential for any organization that wants to be prepared for a data security incident. A comprehensive plan will ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an incident, from the information security team to the rest of the organization. By having a well-thought-out incident response plan, you can minimize the damage caused by an incident and be back up and running as soon as possible.

Why Incident Response Plans are important?

The aftermath of a security breach can be devastating for any organization. Without a well-defined incident response plan, the consequences can be long-lasting and far-reaching.

From being locked out of systems to loss of customer trust and law enforcement involvement, the fallout from a security event can be severe.

In the event of a potential incident, having a vetted plan in place can mean the difference between winning and losing. An outside party such as an insurer or key technology partner can provide invaluable context specific to your industry vertical and/or technology ecosystem that can help you win the day.

How to Develop and Implement an Incident Response Plan

As the aftermath of a data breach can be devastating to your reputation, it is crucial that you are prepared to control the situation. By taking proactive steps, you can protect your brand in the event of a data breach.

An incident response plan is essential for any business that wants to be prepared in the event of a data breach. By having a plan in place, you can minimize the damage and get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.

Step 1: Identify + Prioritize Assets

Data assets are crucial to an organization’s day-to-day operations and need to be properly protected. Identify where these assets are kept and assess the consequences of theft or damage. Taking measures to prevent loss will help keep your organization running smoothly.

Different organizations will have different priorities when it comes to identifying and protecting their assets. However, it is generally advisable to prioritize assets according to their importance and the level of risk they pose. This will help to justify any security budget and show executives which assets need to be protected and why this is essential.

Step 2: Identify Potential Risks

Determine what risks and attacks are the greatest current threats. The current landscape of risks and attacks is always changing, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest threats.

For businesses that operate online, their greatest risk may come from vulnerabilities in their code. For a brick-and-mortar organization that offers WiFi to its customers, the biggest risk may be unsecured Internet access. Other companies might prioritize physical security, while others focus on securing remote access applications.

Examples of possible risks:

  • Loss or theft: Stolen or lost laptops/phones that are breached
  • External or removable media: executed from removable media (flash drives, external hard drives)
  • Attrition: Brute force methods – password cracking
  • Web: Site or web-based app execution
  • Email security: Open an email message or attachment that contains malware
  • Impersonation: SCL injection attacks, rogue wireless access points
  • Running a service like vulnerability scanning can be a huge help to see what potential entry points exist (MAXX VRM).

Step 3: Establish Procedures

If your organization doesn’t have established procedures in place, an employee who panics could make security blunders that could be damaging. Having procedures in place can help prevent this from happening.

Included procedures should a data breach happen:

  • Activity baseline – This helps to identify breaches and/or pinpoint data needed to help with the breach
  • How to identify and contain a breach
  • How to record information on the breach
  • Communications plan
  • What defenses to approach
  • Employee training

As your organization grows and changes, so too will your security policies and procedures. It is important to keep employees up-to-date on these changes, through training and communication. That way, everyone understands the importance of security and knows what to do in case of an incident. Depending on the size and needs of an organization, the need to outsource some or all of your security functions may arise (MAXX Response).

No matter what, employee education is key to maintaining a safe and secure workplace.

Step 4: Response Team Creation

In the event of a data breach, you will need to quickly organize an incident response team in order to minimize the damage and restore operations as soon as possible. This team will be responsible for coordinating your organization’s actions and resources during the security incident.

Team roles and responsibilities (This can vary depending on the size of the organization):

  • Team lead
  • Lead investigator
  • Communications lead
  • C-suite representative
  • IT director
  • Public relations
  • Documentations and timeline lead
  • HR lead
  • Legal representative
  • Breach response experts

Be sure to have a well-rounded response team that is composed of individuals with different skill sets. This way, you can be confident that all aspects of your organization are covered in the event of a crisis. Furthermore, make sure that everyone on the team understands their role in the plan.

Step 5: Training Staff

An incident response plan is only the first step. To be prepared for a data breach, employees need to be properly trained on the plan and know what to do afterward.

Employees play an important role in keeping company security (Remember: The Human Error factor is one of the greatest threats to any organization). They should be vigilant for attempts to steal information, such as phishing emails, spear phishing attacks, and social engineering scams. By being aware of these dangers, employees can help protect their company from data breaches.

Tabletop exercises are a great way to test your employees’ responses to a potential data breach. By simulating a real-world scenario, led by a facilitator, these exercises help to familiarize your staff with their incident response roles. Not only do tabletop exercises require time and money, but they play a vital role in preparing your employees for an actual data breach.

After testing employees, gaps in their knowledge can be identified and addressed so that the organization’s incident response plan can be improved. By doing this, areas to be improved can be identified in real time so team members can get the feedback they need, without any actual risk to the organization’s assets.

In Conclusion

At CyberMaxx we like to stress that it’s not a matter of if but when an organization will become a target of a cyber-attack.

Proactive measures should always be taken as the first line of defense:

Should an attack be successfully launched and a breach occurs, taking the time to create an incident response plan and train employees on what to do and how to carry out the plan is a great tool to help mitigate the damage of a breach.