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Incident response is an organized approach to addressing and managing the aftermath of a security breach or cyber attack, also known as an IT incident, computer incident, or security incident. The goal is to handle the situation in a way that limits damage and reduces recovery time and costs.
Ideally, incident response activities are conducted by the organization’s computer security incident response team (CSIRT), a group that has been previously selected to include information security and general IT staff as well as C-suite level members. The team may also include representatives from the legal, human resources and public relations departments. The CSIRT response should comply with the organization’s incident response plan (IRP), a set of written instructions that outline the organization’s response to a cyberattack.
Any incident that is not properly contained and handled can escalate into a bigger problem that can ultimately lead to a damaging data breach or system collapse. Responding to an incident quickly will help an organization minimize losses, mitigate exploited vulnerabilities, restore services and processes, and reduce the risks that future incidents pose.
Benefits of Incident Response
An Incident Response Plan with clear post-incident instructions, assignments of relevant roles and responsibilities as well as guidelines for incident response management will help organizations navigate the stormy waters of today’s cyber threat landscape.
Security incidents can have disastrous consequences to organizations, ranging from operational downtime to financial losses, reputational damage, and data loss.
Once a security incident has occurred, it is crucial to have the necessary mechanisms in place to mitigate the potential damage and implement corrective actions.
An Incident Response Plan that outlines concrete mitigation and remediation steps can help organizations mitigate the negative impact that a security incident may have on the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their critical assets.
Provide information about the nature of the incident, how long it is expected to last, what its immediate and long-term impact is expected to be, and whether specific guidelines are available to address customer queries.
For long-term success, organizations need to encourage maintaining open communications event after a security incident.
Defend Against Future Attacks
When breaking down the recommended Incident Response Process into distinct phases, the Lessons Learned phase is often identified as the most critical phase. Unfortunately, this very critical stage of the incident handling process is often skipped due to limited resources or time constraints, yet should not be underestimated.
Organizations are best advised to take the time to sit down and conduct a so-called post-mortem exercise after every security incident.
This may seem like a waste of time at first, but can help sharpen defenses, optimize processes, establish benchmarks, reassign roles and responsibilities and facilitate incident response management activities overall.