Cybersecurity incidents, or attacks, are increasingly making headlines in recent years. Attacks such as advanced persistent threats (APTs) can cause serious damage to organizations of all kinds, including government and international bodies. There are known methods to overcome these attacks in a quick yet effective and comprehensive manner. These methods are being deployed at the highest priority level in organizations, government, and international communities, where cybersecurity attacks are seen as the biggest foreseeable threat.
What is cybersecurity incident response? It entails a plan of action that an organization uses to counter and manage a cyberattack. Data breaches and outages create havoc that affects a company’s customers, time, resources, and reputation. An incident response focuses on minimizing the damage and recovering from the attack as soon as possible. An investigation of the attack and response also plays a key role in learning from the incident and improves the defensive posture and response in the future.
Why is an Incident Response Team Important?
As cyberattacks continue to increase in scope and frequency, an incident response plan becomes crucial to a company’s cyber defenses. Having a well-trained and experienced incident response team can prevent potential monetary losses and promote customer confidence.
An incident response team is responsible for developing and implementing the response plan. The plan is available to the members of the team and can be carried out even when one or more members are unavailable. The team is normally comprised of members from high-level management, auditors, and IT that can immediately respond to an incident.
The 6 Steps for Success
Preparation is the foundation of the cybersecurity incident response and is critical to have established prior to any incident. This is the step where the incident response team develops policies, procedures, and assigned roles to follow in case of any theoretical attack. This includes determining the exact composition of the team, contact information for team members and other emergency contacts, and specific roles and responsibilities of the team members. The key to the preparation step is effective training to respond to a breach and to have clear and concise documentation that entails all actions taken during the incident.
This is the step where a breach is identified, and a quick and focused response is implemented. IT security professionals identify breaches, or attacks, using various threat intelligence streams, such as intrusion prevention systems (IPS) or intrusion detection systems (IDS). Threat intelligence is critical for protecting your organization. Threat intelligence professionals analyze ongoing cyber threat trends, common methods used by specific groups, and help keep your company a step ahead.
This step limits, or contains, the damage from a breach to prevent any additional escalation resulting from the incident. This process is to prevent the attacker from communicating with the compromised network, and contain any compromised, or infected, systems or files. This can be achieved by alienating network segments or devices affected by the breach. After the breach has been successfully contained, all evidence and information must be documented for further investigation.
During this step, all the contained systems and files from the breach are cleaned. Deleting malware, infected files, and compromised credentials may not be enough. The best way to remove all malware and infected files from the incident is to reinstall all the systems that were affected during the breach and have the latest patches and security fixes deployed to them.
This step includes bringing all the systems back online, this may include restoring systems and files from backups and verifying that all systems have the latest security patches deployed. Response teams need to validate that all systems are no longer compromised and are restored to working condition. This process also requires setting timelines to fully restore operations and should be continuously monitored for any odd network activity.
Learning and Repeating
The last step emphasizes the need to document and learn from every event. Any found weakness in either the defensive posture or the incident response plan should be evaluated by the response team to fine tune the process. As an organization, determine a schedule for simulating this process. An incident response plan does little good when not revisited periodically and it is most successful when it is familiar prior to putting it into action.
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