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What is Cyber Security Incident Response?

Cyber security incident response management refers to a systematic approach taken by organisations to manage and mitigate the impact of cyber incidents, such as data breaches, cyber attacks, or the discovery of malicious software. It involves a coordinated effort to detect, contain, eradicate, and recover from security incidents in a timely and efficient manner.

Responsibilities in Incident Response

Responsibility for incident response lies with a dedicated cyber security incident response team (CSIRT) within an organisation. This team comprises professionals certified in cybersecurity and equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to handle cyber incidents effectively. They work alongside network security service providers, who specialise in protecting the organisation’s network infrastructure and provide support during incident response efforts. Secure Konnect understand that many organisations do not have the capacity for their own CSIRT and provide this as a service to our clients.

Top Three Challenges with Incident Response

  1. Rapidly Evolving Threat Landscape: Cyber security attacks continue to evolve, making it challenging for organisations to stay ahead of new and sophisticated techniques employed by malicious actors. Continuous training, threat intelligence sharing, and regular updates to incident response plans are essential to address this challenge.
  2. Complex Incident Detection: Identifying cyber incidents can be a complex task, as attackers utilise various methods, such as spear phishing attacks, denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, and code injection attacks. Implementing robust security measures, such as network firewalls, access control systems, and security information and event management (SIEM) tools, can help in early detection.
  3. Coordination and Communication: During a cyber incident, effective coordination and communication among different teams and stakeholders are crucial. Establishing clear communication channels, incident reporting procedures, and a centralised incident action plan can help streamline the response effort.

The Three Main Phases in Incident Response

  1. Preparation: This phase involves proactive measures, such as developing an incident response plan, conducting regular risk assessments, and implementing appropriate security controls. It also includes training and certifying personnel in cybersecurity to ensure readiness.
  2. Detection and Analysis: During this phase, cyber incidents are detected through various means, including SIEM tools and network security monitoring. The incident response team analyses the nature and scope of the incident to understand its impact and potential risks.
  3. Response and Recovery: Once an incident is confirmed, the response team takes action to contain and mitigate the incident. This includes eradicating the malware, restoring affected systems, and implementing measures to prevent future incidents. Post-incident analysis and reporting help in improving future incident response efforts.

The Incident Action Plan

An incident action plan is a documented strategy that outlines the specific actions to be taken during an incident response. It provides step-by-step guidance to the incident response team, ensuring a structured and coordinated approach in containing and resolving the incident.

Examples of Incident Response Teams

Many organisations have established their own internal incident response teams. For instance, Malware Bytes, a prominent cybersecurity company, has a dedicated team that responds to incidents related to malware and malicious software. Other organisations may collaborate with external incident response teams for specialised expertise and support.

The Eight Basic Elements of an Incident Response Plan

  1. Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of team members involved in incident response.
  2. Communication: Establish effective communication channels and protocols for reporting and sharing information during an incident.
  3. Incident Categorisation and Prioritisation: Classify incidents based on their severity and prioritise response efforts accordingly.
  4. Incident Reporting: Establish guidelines for reporting incidents internally and, if required, to external entities, such as regulatory authorities.
  5. Incident Containment: Define steps to isolate and contain the incident, minimising its impact on the organisation’s network and systems.
  6. Evidence Collection: Document and preserve evidence related to the incident for forensic analysis and potential legal action.
  7. Incident Analysis: Conduct a thorough analysis of the incident to understand the root cause and potential vulnerabilities.
  8. Lessons Learned and Improvement: Perform a post-incident analysis to identify areas for improvement in the incident response process and update the incident response plan accordingly.

The Incident Response Checklist

An incident response checklist is a detailed document that outlines the specific actions to be taken during each phase of incident response. It serves as a practical guide for incident responders, ensuring that critical steps are not overlooked during the high-pressure moments of an incident.
Key Actions for Incident Response

Key Actions for Incident Response

  1. Rapid detection and containment of the incident to prevent further damage.
  2. Communication and collaboration among incident response team members and stakeholders.
  3. Forensic analysis and evidence collection to understand the nature of the incident and aid in legal proceedings if necessary.
  4. Restoring affected systems and implementing measures to prevent future incidents.

Planning an Incident Response

To plan an effective incident response, organisations should follow these steps:

  1. Assess risks and vulnerabilities through regular security assessments and penetration testing.
  2. Develop an incident response plan tailored to the organisation’s specific needs and risks.
  3. Train and certify personnel in cybersecurity to ensure they are equipped to handle incidents.
  4. Conduct regular tabletop exercises and simulations to test the incident response plan.
  5. Continuously update and improve the incident response plan based on lessons learned from incidents and industry best practices.
  6. Engage cyber security professional like Secure Konnect to review your business maturity.

Cyber Security Incident Response Management is a key element of a mature cyber security strategy.


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