Blog: Cybersecurity

6 Tips for Establishing a Robust Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan

November 30, 2020 - by Synoptek

Cybersecurity incidents have been dominating the headlines in recent years. Just when organizations think they have all that it takes to guard themselves against a threat, they get targeted when they least expect it. The recent trend in a distributed workforce has only aggravated the situation, with most organizations now more vulnerable to cyber-attacks than ever before. Given the far-reaching impact of a security incident, now is the time for organizations to review their cybersecurity incident response plan and update it to avoid security incidents from hampering their organization and responding effectively to those that cannot be avoided.

The Need for a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan

Cybersecurity incidents have become an indispensable aspect of the modern business world today. With hackers deploying sophisticated technology and innovative tactics to steal valuable business data, organizations have a tough time preventing cyber threats– which can adversely impact employee motivation, business reputation, market value, competitive standing and customer experience. Add to it the mere cost of a cyber-attack that can bring success or growth to a screeching halt. According to reports, data breaches in 2020 cost $3.86 million on an average!

Given that it is no longer a matter of “if” you will experience a cybersecurity incident, but “when”, having a detailed cybersecurity incident response plan in place is critical to avoid costly repercussions. A proper plan in place can help:

  • List out the steps you need to take when an incident happens and quickly notify those affected
  • The security team be aware of new risks your organization could be facing
  • Promptly respond to and effectively recover from a security incident
  • Assess severity and evaluate the causes of the incident
  • Keep your business safe and minimize the impact of non-compliance

Top Tips

Safeguarding your organization against new and upcoming threats means ensuring all your monitoring systems are operating correctly and being ready to respond to any security incidents in the most effective manner. Having a carefully-planned, well-thought of cybersecurity incident response plan in place can help you be better prepared to handle any incident and ensure you recover from it – without major aftermaths. Here are top tips to keep in mind while developing your cybersecurity incident response plan:

1. Assemble a robust internal team: One of the first steps in building an effective cybersecurity incident response plan is to assemble a robust internal team. Instead of depending entirely on your CISO for responding to an untoward security incident, it makes sense to have a pool of senior security managers and analysts who can contribute to devising successful response strategies – in their own little ways. A team of qualified resources can not only help in advising top management of key breach and response developments; it can also help communicate to all employees about the breach and advise them to take the right steps in minimizing impact.

2. Identify an external data security team: As hackers get increasingly sophisticated in how they carry out attacks, the chances of a breach going out of hand are many. Therefore, in addition to building your own internal team to deal with security incidents, it is also advisable to identify an external data security team and, bring them into the picture, if necessary. A qualified security team can quickly help meet breach-related obligations, get action items rolling as soon as possible, and minimize liability and impact of the incident at hand.

3. Document a list of potential breaches and outline quick response guidelines: As part of your response plan, determine the criteria that defines an incident as a security incident. Then, document a list of potential breaches and update it regularly to always be aware of incidents that are likely to occur. In addition to this, clearly outline quick response guidelines that help in taking remediation steps – as soon as an incident occurs. Also, identify resources who will be responsible for making critical incident response decisions and set the recovery plan in motion.

4. Have an incident response checklist in place: Your cybersecurity incident response plan should also include a checklist of prioritized action items to be completed as soon as you learn about the data breach; these include:

  • Recording date and time of breach
  • Informing internal and external teams about the incident
  • Identifying key legal obligations and meeting deadlines for reporting and responding to threats
  • Activating immediate response measures
  • Communicating the breach to stakeholders
  • Listing action items to be implemented in the next few days for quick recovery

5. Constantly analyze threats: You also need to carry out constant threat analysis to baseline and benchmark your current readiness to identify incidents and respond to them in the most efficient manner. Such analysis can help you in proactively identifying vulnerabilities and taking steps in curtailing the impact of a potential incident by implementing appropriate workarounds.

6. Review and update the plan regularly: Make sure to regularly review and update your cybersecurity incident response plan to ensure it is always up-to-date and relevant. Such review can help you in being aware of internal and external security staff changes and expired security provider agreements, so you can make necessary changes. Reviews also help in including new risk profiles as well as additional responsibilities – based on current operating environment.

Prepare, Respond, and Recover

Remote working models, digital transformation efforts, cloud migration, and the concept of BYOD have all expanded the threat landscape for businesses. Given the pace and scale of security incidents today, inadequate planning or improper handling can make a bad situation even worse. If you want to ensure quick recovery from a security breach, you need to develop an effective cybersecurity incident response plan to deal with different types of breaches and stay ahead of adversities. Establishing a robust internal team, identifying an external security team, documenting a list of potential breaches, having an incident response checklist in place, constantly carrying out threat analysis, and reviewing and updating your plan regularly are all essential steps to prepare yourself for potential threats, respond promptly, and recover from attacks that threaten your organization.