5 Tips for an Effective Incident Response Plan

5 Tips for an Effective Incident Response Plan

Did you know that 60% of companies shut down within six months of a successful cyberattack?

When your business’s reputation, revenue, and customer trust is at stake, it’s critical that you can identify and respond to security incidents and events in a timely and effective manner. No matter the size of the breach, having an incident response plan in place can help your business mitigate the risks of falling victim to the latest cyber-attacks.

Here are BCA’s five tips to help you develop an effective incident response plan.

Tip One: Identify and Prioritize Assets

The first step in developing an incident response plan is to identify and prioritize the assets critical to your business's operations. These assets can include data, applications, systems, and other resources that allow you to run your business.

Once identified, it is important to assess whether backups are available for these critical assets and prioritize their protection and recovery based on their significance. This approach is crucial for mitigating the damage caused by a cyberattack since it will allow the business to recover from the attack and continue its operations with minimal disruption.

As a best practice, you should prioritize the protection of the most critical assets by implementing appropriate security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, antivirus software, and access controls.

Tip Two: Determine Potential Risks

A risk assessment involves identifying potential vulnerabilities in your systems and network that could be exploited by cybercriminals. By assessing these risks, you can better understand the likelihood and potential impact of a security breach and take proactive steps to mitigate them.

Some of the common risks that businesses face today include ransomware, business email compromise (BEC), phishing, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Ransomware attacks involve the encryption of a company's data by cybercriminals who then demand payment in exchange for the decryption key. BEC attacks consists of impersonating a company executive to trick employees into divulging sensitive information or transferring funds. Phishing attacks tricks employees into clicking on a malicious link or opening an infected attachment. DDoS attacks overwhelm a company's network with traffic to disrupt normal operations.

The consequences of a successful cyberattack can be severe. According to IBM Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report, the average cost of a ransomware-related data breach is estimated at $4.54 million. Beyond the financial cost, we can’t forget about legal penalties, the loss of customer trust, and reputational damage.

Tip Three: Set Up Breach Plans and Procedures

A streamlined and formal incident response will cover all aspects of the incident response cycle, from initial detection to recovery, and include clear procedures for each stage of the process.

The first step in the incident response cycle is detection, which involves identifying the occurrence of an incident. This can be done through various methods, such as monitoring systems and logs, or through employee reports. Once an incident is detected, the next step is containment, which involves isolating the affected systems to prevent further damage. This is followed by investigation, where the incident is analyzed to determine the cause, scope, and potential impact. Finally, recovery involves restoring affected systems and data to their previous state and implementing measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Having a formal and documented incident response plan will also be a great benefit to your employees as they will know exactly what their responsibilities are during an incident. Confused employees can make mistakes that may worsen the situation, so it's important to have a plan in place that clearly outlines the steps to be taken at each stage of the incident response cycle.

Tip Four: Build a Strong Incident Response Team

The incident response team should be composed of members with different areas of expertise to ensure that all aspects of the incident are addressed effectively. The team should include individuals from IT, legal, communications, operations, human resources, and any of the other relevant departments.

To ensure effectiveness, each member of your incident response team should be aware of their particular role in the plan. A clear understanding of the reporting structure and the escalation process will establish clear lines of communication and allow for smooth collaboration during and after an incident.

In addition, team members must undergo regular training and exercises to practice their roles and responsibilities in different scenarios. The training should include tabletop exercises, simulated cyberattacks, and other relevant activities to ensure that your team is prepared to handle any type of incident.

Tip Five: Train Your Employees:

As briefly mentioned in tip three, it’s crucial to inform your employees about the incident response plan and explain why it exists. They should understand the potential impact of a security breach on the business, customers, and stakeholders. We stress this because a lack of awareness can make them vulnerable to phishing attacks, social engineering, and other forms of cybercrime.

Training for your employees should include information on the types of security incidents that may occur and the steps they should take if they suspect a breach. It should also provide guidance on how to detect and report suspicious activity, such as phishing emails.

In addition to initial training, ongoing training should be provided to employees to ensure that they stay up to date with the latest threats and procedures for handling security incidents. This can be done through a variety of channels, including online courses, seminars, workshops, and even newsletters.

By ensuring that your employees are fully aware of the incident response plan and providing them with regular training, you can significantly reduce their risk of a security breach. In fact, businesses that engage their employees in regular security awareness training experience 70% fewer security incidents.

Need Help Implementing These Best Practices?

Don't wait until it's too late to start developing your incident response plan. Developing and implementing an effective incident response plan is critical for protecting your business from the devastating effects of a security breach. The five tips outlined above provide a solid framework for creating a comprehensive incident response plan that can help mitigate the risks of cyber-attacks. By taking these proactive measures, you can be sure to reduce the impact of a security incident on your business and ensure you can continue to operate smoothly in the event of any cyber threat. Please feel free to contact BCA for any help in implementing these best practices.