Your business just experienced a cybersecurity event: How do you handle it? Do you have a clear, coordinated action plan already in place? Or do you need to throw together response steps at the last minute?

If you said yes to that last question, your organization might experience significant downtime, monetary loss, and damage to your reputation. To stop that from happening, you need to be prepared with an incident response plan in the face of a security breach.

What Is an Incident Response Plan? The 6 Stages.

When a cybersecurity incident occurs, businesses of all sizes needs a quick, uniform way to respond. That’s where your incident response plan comes in. As the go-to set of security tools and procedures for detecting, eliminating, and resolving incidents, an incident response plan helps you minimize the damage caused by any external threat.

While the exact details of your plan will depend on your unique needs, every effective response plan revolves around the six phases of incident response.

Preparation: The key to effective incident response? Having a plan in place before incidents occur. This phase should include the actual creation of your plan, plus any testing and employee training.

Identification: When incidents happen, your team should be able to rapidly identify deviations from normal operations. From there, the incident needs to be analyzed to ensure you follow the right response procedures.

Containment: Upon identification, your goal should be to contain the quickly contain the threat. While doing so, it’s important to gather as much information as possible and preserve it for internal and external use.

Eradication: During this phase, your response team should identify the root cause of the attack, remove the threat, and take steps to prevent a similar attack from happening again. If, for example, a system vulnerability is the cause, it should be patched immediately.

Recovery: Recovering from an attack involves returning all affected systems back online. Once everything is up and running, your response team should closely monitor all systems to ensure they’re operating normally.

Lessons Learned: Shortly after the incident is resolved, team members need to meet and discuss all aspects of the event. What parts of your response plan did or did not work well? During this phase, you might also conduct further investigation into the security incident for a full understanding of what happened and what needs improvement.

Begin Building Your Incident Response Plan

Prioritize Critical Assets

Which assets would cause the biggest losses if stolen or damaged? Once you’ve identified your most critical assets, start prioritizing them according to importance and risk level. If an incident impacts more than one asset at the same time, you need to know which one to defend first.

Identify Risks

You can’t rotect your most critical assets, if you don’t know the ways they could be at risk. One of the first steps in an effective incident response plan, a risk assessment will help you identify vulnerabilities in your systems and the potential risks they present.

Develop Policies & Procedures

The heart of your incident response plan are the steps you’ll take to identify and resolve a cybersecurity event. These typically cover how to identify an incident, general response steps, incident-specific procedures, and communication protocols. Be sure to regularly review your procedures to ensure they align with company changes, such as new data privacy regulations, new technologies, and emerging security threats.

Create a Response Team

An incident response team is a group of trained professionals responsible for coordinating key resources, analyzing information related to the incident, and taking action to restore operations as fast as possible. The size and makeup of your team may vary depending on your organization, but each incident response team member should have a crystal clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

Conduct Ongoing Training & Reviews

Everyone in your organization, from the CEO to your newest hire, needs to be up to speed on the latest cybersecurity best practices to minimize the chances of an incident occuring in the first place. Additionally, it’s good idea to perform drills, such as mock attacks, to test the effectiveness of your response plan. You should also ensure you’re reviewing your entire plan and updating it regularly.

Not Sure Where to Start?

Whether you need to improve your current plan or build one from the ground up, AccountabilIT is here to help. Combining cybersecurity expertise with a customer-first approach, we work with you to develop a response plan that will get you back on track fast and with minimal damage. Reach out today to get started.