Cyber Incident Response Plan

How to create a cyber incident response plan?

date: 16 May 2024
reading time: 6 min

When it comes to data breach, being prepared for it and knowing how to respond to it may make all the difference and may save you a lot of money and trouble. This is why today we look at how to create a cyber incident response plan. Let's dive in!

What is a cybersecurity incident response plan

When an organisation is experiencing a cyber incident, there are certain things that should be done in order to minimise its consequences and stop it as soon as possible.

Those actions should be performed in a certain manner and order, and every organisation should have a document that outlines all those details.

Such a document containing a list of tools and procedures to be used in case of a cyber attack is called a cyber security incident response plan.

Why does your business need a cyber attack response plan?

You may be wondering why your business needs such a cybersecurity incident response plan.

To know the answer, it’s best to look into the statistics: according to Security Magazine, there are over 2,200 cyber attacks each day which breaks down to nearly 1 cyberattack every 39 seconds.

Embroker says that by 2025 cybercrime will cost companies worldwide an estimated $10.5 trillion annually.

Apart from financial loses, consequences of a cyberattack include loss of productivity, reputation damage, legal liability and business continuity problems.

In its Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023 IBM states that on average it takes a company 197 days to discover the breach and up to 69 days to contain it. In 2020, companies that were able to contain a breach in less than 30 days saved more than $1 million compared to those that took more than 30 days.

And the only way of containing a breach quickly is by having an effective incident response strategy!

The key elements of a cyber incident response plan

Every cyber incident response plan should contain some key elements that make it effective.

Those key elements include:

  • the actual policy and objectives together with an explanation of how the plan supports the company,
  • a list of clearly outlined roles and responsibilities of those involved in cyber incident response,
  • procedures for each phase of the process,
  • rules on how to communicate internally and externally in case of a cyber break,
  • all lessons learned from the previous breaches the company experienced,
  • a plan of training and education of all staff.

Read more about effective cybersecurity measures for your business:

Creating an effective cyber response strategy step-by-step

To start working on your cyber incident response strategy as soon as possible, we created a step-by step guide which you may adapt to the needs of your organisation.

Cyber response strategy

Read about the steps in more detail:

Prepare your Incident Response team

Start by creating a list of clearly outlined rules and responsibilities of your cyber incident response team.

Remember that each member of the team should be informed about their responsibilities and they all should be regularly trained on how to effectively deal with a cyber incident should it happen.

Develop response procedures for cyber threats

Develop a detailed incident response plan that includes procedures for detection, analysis, containment, eradication, recovery, and communication.

Document the plan comprehensively, ensuring it is easily accessible and understandable to relevant team members.

Craft communication strategy in cyber incident plans

When developing your communication strategy in cyber incident plans think about both internal and external communication.

When it comes to internal communication, establish who the incident response team should communicate with and how, also decide what information should be conveyed.

When it comes to communicating externally, establish protocols for communication your breach to external stakeholders, including customers, partners, regulators, and law enforcement.

Test and review your cyber incident response plan

Testing and reviewing your cyber incident response plan is a crucial step to ensure its effectiveness and to identify areas for improvement.

Organise exercises, simulation drills, establish KPIs and never forget about regular, thorough training for all employees, that will help them remember how to react in case of a breach and will make your cyber response much better and more effective.

By regularly testing and reviewing your cyber incident response plan, you can identify weaknesses, improve response capabilities, and ensure that your organisation is well-prepared to handle cyber threats effectively.

Adjustments and updates should be made based on the insights gained from these exercises and from real-world incidents.

Common mistakes in cyber incident response planning

When creating your cyber incident response plan, there are several common mistakes you should avoid in order to make it as effective as possible.

Here is a list of some of them, which may help you get better prepared:

  1. Lack of cyber incident response plan

    You may be surprised to learn that 77% of respondents of a Ponemon research say they lack a formal incident response plan applied consistently across their organisation. Having it is the key to success!

  2. Lack of regular tests

    You may have the best cyber incident response plan in the world, but if you don’t test it and don’t update it according to the ever changing business needs, it will become outdated and ineffective.

    Cybercriminals are working around the clock, so to keep up with this speed you should make sure your plan is always updated.

  3. Incomplete or outdated contact information

    Having inaccurate or outdated contact information for key personnel, including members of the incident response team and external stakeholders, can result in delays and miscommunication during an incident.

    Don’t wait till it’s needed – make sure you regularly update your contact lists.

  4. Poor communication strategy

    Ineffective communication during an incident can exacerbate its impact.

    Not having clear communication protocols, both internally and externally, can lead to confusion and delays in response efforts. To avoid it, be clear about your communication strategy.

  5. Lack of training for employees

    Neglecting the human element in incident response, such as insufficient training and awareness programmes for employees, can lead to mistakes and delays in detecting and responding to a threat.

    Only those members of staff that are trained will know how to behave in case of an incident. This is why it’s crucial to have trainings for all new staff and regular refreshers for all those that have already been trained.

  6. Overlooking legal and regulatory considerations

    Failing to consider legal and regulatory requirements in the incident response plan can result in non-compliance and legal repercussions. It’s essential to align the plan with relevant laws and regulations.

  7. Ignoring insider threats

    Focusing only on external threats and neglecting potential insider threats can leave organisations very vulnerable. Incident response plans should address the possibility of both internal and external threats.

Ready to kickstart working on your cyber incident response plan? Do get in touch with our team of experienced cybersecurity specialists – they will be happy to share with you their knowledge on how to best prepare for a cyber incident if it ever occurs!

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