Incident Response becomes more urgent as cyberattacks have higher stakes year over year, putting organizations’ reputations, customers, and finances at risk. It is therefore crucial for organizations to readily identify and respond to security incidents.
The modern cybersecurity framework emphasizes taking robust actions and defense against cyber attacks. The cyber threat landscape is a throbbing and thriving battleground.
Therefore, so far, there is no foolproof cybersecurity infrastructure available for organizations to adopt blindly. Amidst this, “preparing for the worst” or, more formally, Incident Response” is a concept that is widely becoming a norm.
What is Incident Response?
Incident response is the strategy that a company takes to sustain the aftermath of a breach or a cyber attack. It involves an organization’s process of dealing with a cyber-attack and managing the consequences of the attack. The idea is to create a managing process that minimizes the damages caused to the organization’s financial and reputational aspects and ensures a cost-effective and robust recovery time.
An incident response plan or strategy highlights:
- The defining aspects of the data breach
- What is the role and responsibilities of the security team on the data breach
- Tools for managing various cyber incidents
- Steps required to address the security incident
- What is the investigation plan for the security incident
- The best possible strategy of communicating the incident, i.e., plan out notification requirements.
Such tactics help organizations mitigate the crippling losses a security incident faces and help recover whatever is lost.
Why is Incident Response critical?
A significant security incident such as a cyber-attack or a data breach can potentially cripple an organization. Therefore, organizations must create a robust incident response plan for various reasons with such high risks at stake.
An effective incident response plan is essential for an organization because of the following aspects.
Incident Response ensures data protection
Data is the most crucial aspect of the functioning of an organization. Be it customer information or other corporate information, everything is essential. So, it is crucial to maintain data security and integrity. Data in the wrong hands often means proprietary information leaking to the public or unwanted individuals/organizations.
However, that is not all: a cybercriminal might also exploit the availability of information in a ransomware attack, i.e., encrypt it in demand for a ransom or merely sell it over the dark web.
By following an updated and proactive incident response plan, an organization can maintain data integrity and protection. The incident response plan could eradicate data security threats by initiating secure backups, ensuring protection from insider threats, planning a robust malware protection program, or deploying a zero-trust security model. It would help protect data assets from breaches, hack attacks, malware invasions, and a lot more.
Incident Response maintains organization’s reputation and integrity
If an organization fails to quickly and adequately handle a security incident, it will likely lose its customers. Loss of customers is one of the most crippling impacts of a cyber attack or breach. In one of its surveys, IDC found that 80% of customers will defect from a business due to data losses within a security incident. Therefore, a data breach or a cyber attack can be nothing short of a PR nightmare for an organization.
Things could be particularly drastic for publicly traded organizations since they would dramatically decrease investor confidence and reliance. Various significant data breaches in the past years, such as the one that happened to Equifax or the ones faced by Yahoo, Sony, or even Target, are enough examples of how these may cripple an organization.
Incident Response helps protect your revenue
It is no news that a data breach or any cyber security incident leads to massive financial losses. Robust incident response can significantly help an organization avoid potential revenue losses. Global costs of data breaches are sky-high, averaging around $3.86million.
Admittedly, depending on the size of the company, the cost of a data breach may vary. However, the impact is significant nonetheless. 60% of organizations cannot fully recover after a significant security incident and are often forced to shut down permanently within six months.
Because of direct revenue losses and the piling costs for legal fees, remediation, forensic investigation, and regulatory and compliance penalties, an organization gets burdened with responding to a security breach. Moreover, any organization dealing directly or indirectly with EU citizens will further face GDPR fines. A quick and ready response to a security incident can likely impact data, customer trust, reputation, and potential losses.
How to implement an Incident Response plan?
A thorough and proactive incident response plan relies on the following steps. Each one of these is crucial for the success of the incident response plan.
The preparation phase is the workhorse of your incident response plan. It involves training the employees on their roles and responsibilities in the advent of an incident.
Apart from that, it is also crucial to maintain a specific budget for your incident response plan. Keep it well documented, defying each individual’s budget, resources, and roles, and regular training for effectiveness. Also, ensure that all the aspects of your plan, such as training, execution, hardware, and software resources, are approved and funded.
This phase involves identifying if your organization faces a threat and analyzing the nature of a data breach or security incident. The security team must have information on what and how the attack happened.
Moreover, the team should also remain ready to identify and analyze compromised assets and the scope of the compromise. With that, the security team should work on discovering the point of entry. Such actions will help in the proactive implementation of the response plan.
Once the breach or the security incident is fully discovered, instruct the security team to contain the breach so it doesn’t spread further. It is crucial not to delete anything since it might destroy valuable evidence and prevent the security team from building a strategy for future breaches.
It is also recommended to have redundant backups, to help restore workflow and avoid any data losses. Apart from that, it is also important to have your security team build patches for your system vulnerabilities. It is also necessary to integrate remote access protocols such as making multi-factor authentication necessary, changing username passwords and credentials, and protecting entry points with strong passwords.
Once your incident response team has successfully identified and eliminated the root cause of the issue, it is time to implement security. Traces of malware or security issues in your system might lead to further cyber-attacks or data losses. It is best to dedicate your security team to patching vulnerabilities, updating security programs, and removing malware.
The recovery phase involves the storing and recovering of affected systems and devices within your organization. It is essential to have your business up and to run as soon as possible to avoid losing clients and customers in the long run.
Any organization that quickly recovers from a security incident can restore work order and maintain its reputation amidst clients, stakeholders, investors, and customers.
Once the proper investigation of the security incident is complete, it’s time to join heads with the respective security team, CISO, and CEO to discuss the lessons learned in the security incident. A proper analysis of each document can help build a better response plan and identify weaknesses that need to be addressed.
A robust way of data security and integrity rises from customer training, awareness, and proper planning. Organizations must identify the main factors that ensure data security and integrity and minimize damage and losses.
At Right-Hand, we help organizations fill the training gap that makes Incident Response strategies even more effective by building a cyber-aware workforce that prevents data breaches.