Cyber Week 2021: Steps for Effective Incident Response

Australia’s annual Cyber Week is due to return on 25-29 October 2021. The event combines virtual and in-person sessions, giving cybersecurity and business professionals a chance to network, share knowledge and build shared resilience. By debating topical issues and highlighting threats and solutions, the event fosters a greater understanding of cybersecurity in Australia. In support of Cyber Week 2021 and in the name of demystifying cybersecurity, we’d like to help you understand the importance of incident response. Read on to find out what incident response is, why it is vital to every business and how the NIST Incident Response Process can help.

What is Incident Response?

Incident Response is a term used to describe how a business handles cybersecurity incidents. Incident Response is a coordinated and structured approach to go from incident detection to resolution. Organisations that can manage incidents effectively and efficiently will significantly limit damages and costs to the business, and ensure that recovery time is as quick as possible.

An incident response plan provides a methodical approach to dealing with a cybersecurity incident and remediates the associated risks. The plan defines what to do before, during and after an incident, ensuring that companies are able to constantly learn and be better prepared in the future.

The Importance of an Incident Response Plan

No matter what measures in place you have to protect your business from the risks of cybercrime, cyber incidents are inevitable in every organisation. Every major brand-recognisable company, with the most robust of security systems, has found themselves victim to cybersecurity incidents. These incidents have lingering repercussions on the performance of the company, as well as to their clients and suppliers.

Cybercriminals do not discriminate based on the size of the organisation – in 2019, cybercrime cost small Australian businesses an estimated $300 million. This is why it is so important to have an incident response plan in place: it’s not a matter of whether an incident will occur; it’s a matter of when. The more prepared you are, the better placed you will be to respond quickly and minimise the impact and consequence.

Establishing a successful incident response plan requires planning and resources. To manage an incident, you need a framework to confirm whether or not an incident occurred, provide rapid detection and containment, minimise disruption to the business and stakeholders, restore normal operations, and constantly avoid providing disjointed and non-cohesive communications to employees, clients, and the public.

Time spent planning will be a huge amount of time saved down the road. Cybersecurity incidents have become more numerous, more diverse and more damaging. And that means that the cost of not having a plan in place is far higher than that of establishing one. Any incident that isn’t contained will escalate into a bigger problem and potentially lead to a data breach. Being able to identify and secure incidents significantly reduces the risk of financial, operational and reputational damage.

The NIST Incident Response Process

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is responsible for establishing technology, standards, and metrics to protect vulnerable industries from attack. NIST helps businesses understand how to protect their data and advises which security measures should be in place. One such security measure is an incident response plan.

The NIST incident response process comprises four key phases:

NIST Incident Response Process

  • Preparation: The incident response team is fundamental to the success of response programs. Preparation involves establishing a team and ensuring systems, networks and applications are sufficiently secure. Businesses can then prepare to handle incidents using common attack vectors with appropriate response strategies.
  • Detection and Analysis: Determining whether an incident has occurred or is occurring, and the magnitude of the problem is a vital step. Incident response teams should quickly analyse and evaluate every incident, determining its origin and the scope of networks, systems and applications affected. Information gathered and documented during this stage should help prioritise the next activities.
  • Containment, Eradication and Recovery: Containment stops an incident from overwhelming resources, increasing in intensity and gives time for a tailored remediation strategy to be developed. It can involve shutting down systems, disconnecting networks or disabling functions. Eradication can then eliminate components of the incident by, for example, deleting malware or disabling accounts. Threat actors are locked out from compromised systems. Recovery then works to restore systems to normal operation and address vulnerabilities to prevent the incident from reoccurring.
  • Post-Incident Activity: Enhances the security posture of a compromised entity against future incidents. Lessons learned meetings are a vital way to improve security measures and the incident handling process itself. During post-incident analysis, teams can decide what additional tools or resources are needed to better detect, analyse, and mitigate future incidents.

How Will Your Business Respond to a Cyberattack?

If you’re not certain of how your business will respond to a cyber attack, then you need to work on developing your incident response plan. Having an incident response plan in place, which is tailored to your organisation, can mitigate the consequences of a breach, and ensure business continuity. 

InfoTrust has a team of incident response experts who can help you develop a tailored framework to defend against security incidents in an effective way. Our incident response planning service involves four key steps:

  • Investigate the incident – how to assess if a compromise has occurred, assess the extent of damage and the severity of the incident, and prioritise actions.
  • Remediate the incident – how to remove the root cause of an incident, isolate at-risk areas, restore systems as quickly as possible, and comply with legal reporting obligations.
  • Communicate the plan – how to deliver clear, consistent messaging across defined channels to ensure everyone knows what to do.
  • Learn lessons – how to record and analyse what happened during an incident to learn lessons, adapt defences, and reduce future risk.

You can’t be certain of how or when an attack might occur, but you can be certain of how your company responds. Contact the InfoTrust team today to generate a tailored, comprehensive incident response plan.

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