Get Started with Incident Response Planning: Beginners Best Practices  

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Incident Response Planning

Have you ever considered what happens when a company experiences a security breach or cyber attack? This is where incident response comes into play.

The process of detecting, investigating, and mitigating security incidents is known as incident response. To effectively carry out this process, businesses must have an Incident Response Plan in place.

In this article, we will discuss the best practices for creating an incident response plan for beginners, as well as the significance of incident response software in streamlining the procedure.

What is an Incident Response Plan?

An incident response plan is a set of procedures that your security team can use to identify, eliminate, and recover from cyber threats. It is designed to help your team respond quickly and consistently to any type of external threat.

Incident response plans ensure that responses are as effective as possible and minimize the damage caused by threats such as data loss, resource abuse, and loss of consumer confidence.

The steps taken to prepare for, detect, contain, and recover from a data breach are part of incident response (IR).

Why is It Important to Have an Incident Response Plan?

Cyber incidents are not just technical issues, they are also business issues. They can cause less damage if they are mitigated sooner.

According to the Ponemon Institute’s Cost of Cyber Crime Study, the average organization experiences 145 security incidents per year and spends $13 million to defend itself. An efficient response procedure can significantly reduce these costs.

Additionally, incident response planning protects your company’s reputation. IDC found that 80% of consumers would move their business elsewhere if a data breach directly impacted them.

If a security breach is not handled appropriately, the company risks losing business and losing the confidence of investors and shareholders.

How Can You Ensure That Your Network is Prepared for a Disaster?

Your network’s security will never be 100% foolproof, so it’s important to prepare both your network and your employees for future disasters.

In addition to an incident response plan, you need a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that can minimize damage caused by disasters.

The Significance of Incident Response Software

Incident response software plays a crucial role in minimizing the impact of network disasters by providing a structured and efficient process for detecting, investigating, and mitigating security incidents.

This software streamlines the incident response process, allowing organizations to respond quickly and consistently to any type of external threat.

By automating the incident response procedures, incident response software helps organizations minimize damage from security incidents, such as data loss, resource abuse, and loss of customer confidence, and safeguard their reputation.

Having incident response software in place is essential for any organization looking to protect their valuable data and reputation in the event of a network disaster. 

For instance, FreshService is an IT service desk software that offers incident management features. The software helps organizations handle and resolve IT incidents efficiently and effectively.

It includes features such as incident tracking, priority management, and collaboration tools.

FreshService also provides a centralized platform for documenting and organizing incident data, making it easier for teams to access information and resolve incidents quickly.

The software is designed to streamline incident management processes and improve overall IT service delivery.

What are the Steps of Incident Response?

The key to effective incident response is preparation. Without established guidelines, even the best incident response team cannot effectively address an incident. Your team must be supported by a solid plan.

To effectively respond to security incidents, an incident response plan should include the following elements:

1. Preparation

Perform a risk assessment to prioritize security issues and determine which assets are the most sensitive and which incidents the Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT) must prioritize. Create a communication plan, document roles, responsibilities, and procedures, and recruit CIRT members.

Develop and Document IR Policies

Establish incident response management policies, procedures, and agreements.

Define Communication Guidelines

Create communication standards and guidelines to facilitate communication during and after an incident.

Integrate Threat Intelligence Feeds

Continuously collect, evaluate, and synchronize threat intelligence feeds.

Conduct Cyber Hunting Exercises

Conduct operational threat hunting exercises to identify incidents affecting your environment, promoting proactive incident response.

Assess Threat Detection Capability

Assess your current capability for detecting threats and revise your risk assessment and improvement programs.

2. Identification

When an incident is detected, the team should gather additional evidence, assess the severity of the incident, and record the “Who, What, Where, Why, and How” of the incident.

Observe

Use firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and data loss prevention to monitor security events in your environment.

Detect

Correlate alerts within a SIEM solution to detect potential security incidents.

Alert

Analysts create an incident ticket, document initial findings, and classify incidents initially. The reporting procedure should also account for regulatory reporting escalations.

3. Evaluation and Analysis

Most of the effort to correctly scope and understand the security incident takes place during this step. Collecting data from tools and systems for further analysis and identifying indicators of compromise requires the application of resources.

The individual should have a thorough understanding of live system responses, digital forensics, memory analysis, and malware analysis.

As analysts gather evidence, they should focus on three primary areas:

Endpoint Analysis

  • Determine what footprints the threat actor may have left.
  • Collect artifacts to construct an activity timeline.
  • Analyze a bit-by-bit copy of systems from a forensic perspective and capture RAM to identify key artifacts and determine what occurred on a device.

Binary Analysis

Investigate the malicious binaries or tools used by the attacker and document their functionality. This analysis is done in two ways:

  • Execute the malicious program in a virtual machine (VM) to observe its behaviour.
  • Reverse-engineer the malicious program to determine its full functionality. 

Enterprise Hunting

  • Determine the extent of compromise by analyzing existing systems and event log technologies.
  • Document all compromised accounts, devices, etc. to effectively contain and neutralize the threat.

4. Containment and Neutralization

This is one of the most crucial phases of incident response. The containment and neutralization strategy is based on the intelligence and indicators of compromise gathered during the analysis phase.

After system restoration and security verification, normal operations may resume.

Coordinated Shutdown

After identifying all systems in the environment that have been compromised by a threat actor, you should conduct a coordinated shutdown of these devices. To ensure proper timing, a notification must be sent to all members of the IR team.

Wipe and Reconstruct

Wipe the infected devices and completely reconstruct the operating system. Change the credentials of all compromised accounts.

Requests for Threat Mitigation

If you have identified domains or IP addresses that are known to be used by threat actors for command and control, issue requests for threat mitigation to block all egress channels connected to these domains.

5. Recovery

The team carefully restores affected production systems to prevent a recurrence of the incident.

Key decisions at this stage include determining the time and date to resume operations, determining how to verify that affected systems have returned to normal, and monitoring activity to ensure normal operations have resumed.

6. After-Event Activity

After the incident has been resolved, there are additional tasks to be completed. Ensure that all information that can be used to prevent similar occurrences in the future is adequately documented.

Complete an Incident Report

Documenting the incident will help improve the incident response plan and enhance additional security measures to prevent future security incidents.

Monitor After-Event Activity

As threat actors may reappear, post-incident activity must be closely monitored. We recommend using a security log analyzer to examine SIEM data for any indications of tripped indicators that may have been related to the previous incident.

Update Threat Intelligence

The organization’s threat intelligence feeds should be updated.

Determine Preventive Actions

Develop new security measures to prevent future incidents.

Gain Cross-Functional Support

Organization-wide coordination is essential for the successful implementation of new security initiatives.

Final Takeaways

In conclusion, incident response planning is a vital component of any organization’s cybersecurity program. By creating an incident response plan, businesses can effectively mitigate the effects of potential security breaches and cyber attacks.

Focus on the fundamentals when creating your plan, such as outlining roles and responsibilities, establishing communication protocols, and regularly practicing your plan. Additionally, don’t neglect to use incident response software to increase efficiency.

By following these best practices, you will be well on your way to developing an incident response plan that can protect the valuable data and reputation of your organization.

Stay Protected with CyberSecurity Solution here.

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