What is the Zero Trust Model?

Long gone is the time when executive leaders had to stay disconnected from the IT function. Now is the time when cybersecurity has to be one of the top priorities for the organization. Having a cyber security incident response plan in place is no longer an option if you want to stop cyber attackers from invading your network and taking advantage of your security vulnerabilities.

Regardless of the field you work in, security threats and subsequent breaches are to be mitigated well. Cyber security incident response involves detecting security events affecting information assets and network resources and taking steps to evaluate the risks, and cleaning up the disorder caused by a security breach. With so much on the line, cyber security incident response is of paramount importance. Everything from unencrypted laptops to stolen login credentials, database exposures, and malware infections can have ramifications making a lasting impact on your business.

In this incident response guide, we will be discussing cyber security incident response and why it is important for your business.

The Need For Cybersecurity Incident Response

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The sooner you mitigate the cyber incidents, the less damage they are likely to cause. An incident response plan is no longer an IT matter. So, it must be designed in a way that aligns with the priorities of your organization.

But, what is incident response? 

An incident response plan tells responders exactly what to do, which tools to use, and which authorities to contact in case of a cyber attack. Executive leaders must understand the operational requirements and strategic goals of their organization to minimize disruption in case of an incident.

Once you have all the information you need, you can use this to further improve your risk assessment process. This will equip you better to handle future incidents. Also, in the case of an event, you can use your incident response plan to prove that you acted responsibly during an attack. Even with so many benefits of an incident response plan, many organizations still don’t have one. And the ones that do have an underdeveloped plan.

In the case of a cyber-attack, speed is crucial to limit the damage. If attackers have more time to snoop around your target’s network, they will be able to steal more.

Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan

Cyber security incident response is a process. In order to have an efficient plan, here are a few things that you have to focus on:

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The exact responsibilities of the members of the incident response team should be outlined in detail. Make sure that you have a backup for each role in case someone is unreachable. Get your CEO or other leaders in agreement regarding the executive approval they will need in case of a cyberattack.

Confirm Roles and Responsibilities

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All your intellectual property and critical systems should be mapped. Once you understand the value of your web properties and source code, you will understand the financial impact of your network downfall. If critical data like the customer database goes missing, you should know exactly how it will impact your business. There might be some breach notification requirements you have to meet and penalties you have to pay. For this, you can use reports from prior audits.

Document Critical Assets

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Your IR plan should outline the communication call for the team. For example, if there is an attack, who will be the one to initiate the call? Who will be the backup in case that person is not available? How often should the executive team be updated? Consider every scenario and get approvals in advance.

Establish a Communications Plan and Protocol

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Write down all the potential incidents, such as critical system compromise, customer data theft, cyberbullying, site or network down, and more. Then, you can prepare short statements, social media posts, and a press release. This is crucial in the case of a serious incident that requires you to disclose it to the public. Once you have drafted them, get them approved by the legal team so that you don’t have to run around getting approvals during the midst of an attack.

Draft Core Communications

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For the IR, you will need the following:

  • Technical team – Security and IT team members who are skilled at security and can defend your organization
  • Executive sponsor – Senior executives overseeing the IR
  • Incident response coordinator – A person who manages the incident and the team
  • Forensic analyst – An internal or outside forensics adviser for the company
  • Media relations coordinator – A PR representative who will be dealing with the media when a breach occurs
  • Legal counsel – An outside law firm or your in-house corporate attorney to represent your organization in court
  • Outside counsel – A third-party incident response or information security expert

Incident Response Skills

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After the IR plan has been developed, you have to let the company know. During a data breach, you don’t want your inbox drowning in messages from every employee in the company or your salesperson saying the wrong thing to the clients. Make sure everyone knows that only the members of the IT team will be communicating with the partners and the customers.

Socialize the IR Chart To The Company

Follow Incident Response Steps

Different companies have different cybersecurity incident response plans, depending on your specific requirements. However, there are three general steps that every IR plan must have:

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It will be impossible for you to create an effective IR plan once the cyber attackers have knocked down your organization’s doors. A plan must be in place before the event so that you are better prepared to respond and know exactly what cybersecurity incident response workflow must be implemented.


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In this stage, you have to determine if a cyber incident has occurred, what type of attack it is, and how severe it is. For this, you have to take the following steps:

  • Pinpoint the sign of the incident
  • Analyze the signs
  • Document the incident
  • Prioritize the incident depending on their impact
  • Notify others about the incident

Detection and Analysis

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In this phase, you have to work on minimizing the damage caused by the incident. After containing the incident, the IR team will have enough time to focus on the next steps, such as addressing the incident’s root cause and restoring systems to their normal operation.

Containment and Eradication

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Consider every incident to be a lesson to learn. Cyberattackers are evolving, and you must also stay updated with the latest procedures and techniques to be better prepared.

Post-Incident Recovery

Build a Cybersecurity Incident Response Team

A crucial part of your IR plan is the team. While building the team, you have to figure out who will be on the team, their functions, roles and responsibilities, and more.

Your IR team must not only have the required technical skills but should also be able to coordinate well during security incidents. The team should meet quarterly to discuss any changes to the technology and policy and also review past incidents. Apart from this, you can also consider participating in drills where the IR team members will act out exactly what they have to do in case of a breach. This will help them work on their skills and work out any inter-team issues.

In order to build the team, you will need members with a wide range of roles and responsibilities, such as a team leader, lead investigator, incident manager, PR and communications representative, legal counsel, and HR representative.

Another thing that you have to focus on is deciding between an internal or an outsourced IR team. Since the responsibilities of the team members are cross-functional and involve management personnel of the organization, you cannot outsource it entirely. And considering how important a role cybersecurity plays in protecting your business interests, outsourcing the entire job to a third-party service isn’t recommended. However, depending on your expertise and budget, you can outsource some parts of it.

Use and Need of Incident Response Tools

With the right tool, you can automate certain functions of the IR team. It will help eliminate errors and minimize the involved team. There are several IR-focused tools that can offer you the following:

However, in order to use these technologies, you will need a big budget that can cover the capital as well as operating expenses. eDiscovery software companies, such as Casepoint, have strong incident response and business continuity procedures in place to help you mitigate the attack. 

There are some open-source software tools that you can work with as well, depending on your business requirements and the level of effort you are willing to put into it.

Another thing that you have to take care of is making sure that your staff has the skills to work with the new technologies. Any new technology that you implement should be followed with training. Having the required resources and training is crucial for initial implementation, troubleshooting, and day-to-day administration.


Cyber security incident response is no longer just an IT issue that has to be managed by technical professionals. It is a core business function as important as the operations, financial, and legal aspects. Information security of any organization is a critical part of a business’s foundation that must be prioritized.

Unless you can master all the critical security aspects, including incident response in cyber security, things might not go as smoothly as you hoped. When the breach happens, you need a security program that can mitigate it and help you deal with any future intrusive investigations. So, get started on developing and improving your security incident response plan before any of your business comes into the eye of a cyber attacker.