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Incident Response and its Phases

ncident Response is a process by which an organization handles and manages the cyber-attack or data breach so that the damage or consequences of the attack become minimal. In other words, the processes used to prepare for, detect, contain, and recover from a data breach are known as an incident response (IR).

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Incident Response is a process by which an organization handles and manages the cyber-attack or data breach so that the damage or consequences of the attack become minimal. In other words, the processes used to prepare for, detect, contain, and recover from a data breach are known as an incident response (IR).

Incident Response is usually handled by the Incident response team (IR Team), which consists of a staff of Security and IT and the legal, human resources, and public relations departments.

Incident Response Plan (IRP)

Cybersecurity incident response plan document should ideally be a crisp, concise, to-the-point document that describes the precautionary measures to be taken by the incident response team (IR team) and the information security team. For avoiding confusion, roles and responsibilities standards, communication plans, and defined response methods should be included and clearly explained in the document.

Phases of Cyber Incident Response

There are six steps involved in the Incident Response process.

  1. Preparation

    As the name says, preparation is the first and most essential phase of the whole process, which is carried out before the incident. So, it is the most crucial step as it will determine whether your organization will sustain the attack or not.In this phase, we conduct a risk assessment and determine where the most significant vulnerabilities are, which assets are most likely to be targeted, and what the company will do if they are damaged.

    This is when organizations either refine existing rules and procedures or create new ones if they don’t have any. This phase includes the communication plans, roles, and responsibilities in IRT, access controls, and training.

  2. Identification

    This phase comes after the incident has occurred. It is critical to figure out the breach in golden hours so that the situation doesn’t go out of hand. This phase starts with identifying the type of threat, what consequences it can possess, its extent, and the goals of the intruder.

    IT personnel gathers events from log files, monitoring tools, error messages, intrusion detection systems, and firewalls to discover and determine issues and their scope in this step of effective incident response. After an incident has been confirmed, communication planning is also started during this phase.
  3. Containment

    Containing an issue once it has been recognized or identified is a high priority. Erasing everything is never the best answer because you might lose necessary evidence in the process. This phase should cover topics like which systems will be taken offline in a breach and what backup procedures are in place.

    Usually, Containment takes place in two subparts:
    • Short Term Containment

      It reduces the extent of the harm before it worsens, traditionally done by isolating network segments.

    • Long Term Containment

      It is referred to as temporary fixes to allow production systems to be restarted.

  4. Eradication

    The purpose of this phase in incident response is to eliminate the source of the breach. By this step, organizations can remove the threat and restore the affected systems to their original state by ejecting malware and preventing attackers while minimizing the loss. This phase will last until all traces of the attack have been eliminated. This phase also focuses on patching vulnerabilities and updating old versions of software, in addition to securely removing malware.

  5. Recovery

    After the vulnerabilities have been patched, the malware has been removed, or the reason for the attack has been resolved, the next step is recovery or restoration. Organizations want the systems to recover fully and go up again in this phase. The recovery process includes:

    • Monitoring
    • Testing and verifying
    • Defining date and time, when to restore services
  6. Learnings

    It is the final and can be considered the critical step in the Incident Response process. It gives us the overall understanding and helps the organizations improve for future efforts. Organizations can use this step to implement/update their Incident Response process with the things that might have been missed during the incident. Overall, it provides us the experience to learn and implement new techniques.

Why is Incident Response Plan Important?

When an organization’s reputation, income, and customer trust are on the line, the ability to detect and respond to security incidents and events is vital. Organizations must have an incident response strategy, whether the breach is small or large.Here are the essential points regarding why you need Incident Response Plan today-

  • In data breaches or cyber-attacks, the customers’ trust decreases, so having a solid IR Team will eventually regain confidence.
  • For preserving the company’s reputation, IRP is essential.

Conclusion

The process by which an organization addresses and manages a cyber-attack or data breach is known as incident response. This process is usually carried out with the help of an incident response team (IR team) which comprises security and IT members. The process of Incident response is done in six phases, such as Preparation, Identification, Containment, Eradication, Recovery, and Learning. Having a solid IR team is essential, to overcome the effects of data breaches or cyber-attacks.

About the Author

Nishiket Kumar is a Consultant at Encryption Consulting, working with PKIs, HSMs and working as a consultant with high-profile clients.

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