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Something always worth repeating in the cybersecurity world is that having a plan is better than reacting. It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, staying ahead of problems puts you in a better position to manage them every time.
That’s where having a security incident management plan in place can help. If something happens, you’re not flying by the seat of your pants. You’re following a well-thought-out and tested plan designed to help with the exact scenario you’re facing.
What is security incident management?
Security incident management is the act of discovering, managing, logging, and better understanding the threats that your organization faces. The reasoning behind this is to give you a complete picture of the threats that you could face one day and to have a plan in place that helps you manage the incident when it happens.
Why is security incident management so important?
The main answer here is because, as we mentioned above, having a plan in place helps you better respond to all incidents, big or small. If your approach is a “we’ll deal with it when it happens” kind of approach, you’re going to lose a lot of time in those critical early stages of an incident just figuring out what’s happening and what you need to do to stop it. What this means is that while you’re figuring out the details, cybercriminals have more time to spend causing damage or stealing data.
With security incident management, you have a clear plan to follow from the moment you know what’s going on. You’re acting with precision, rather than guessing. And, when you’re acting with precision, you’re in a much better position to stay ahead of attackers, preventing a small incident from becoming a huge one.
On top of this, each incident gives you something to log for next time. Even if you’ve already got a plan in place that helps you mitigate an incident, if you make a note of everything that happened, you can modify your plan to be more effective next time.
How to plan this for your business
One of the first things you need to do is decide who’s going to be responsible for what during an incident. Chances are you’ve got an IT team or a SOC that is in charge of this, which is great. If you don’t, you’ll need to create a response team to manage situations as they arise.
Next, catalog not only all the assets that you have in your business but also all the potential attack types you may face. This helps you create a comprehensive look at all the vulnerable assets that you have within your organization and you know what the threats look like.
From there, you need to create a plan of how to deal with each incident type and what needs to be done to protect your assets. This is a time-consuming task, but cutting corners here is only going to result in your business having unsecured assets or, worse, there being a type of cyberattack that you’ve missed, rather than planned for.
Once you understand all these details, implement training for your non-security staff, so they also understand their role in security. This should be a part of your standard security protocol to help prevent anyone on your team from accidentally causing an incident.
Finally, document everything. What you’ve found, what issues may arise, how they can be stopped, etc. The more information you capture, the better.
The management steps and process and reactive measures
Once you’ve got everything figured out at a high level, it’s time to put a plan in place that makes sure everyone in your organization knows exactly what to do whenever anything happens.
Ideally, you’ve got these outlines in a document that clearly outlines the steps along the way, from discovering there might be an issue to discussing how everything went after the fact.
When you first come across a potential issue, you need to come up with a plan to manage it. The more detailed this plan is, the more effective you’re going to be at stopping things from getting worse. It helps to come at this from a couple of different perspectives. First, what’s the process for mitigating the issue before an attack and, second, how do you handle things if there is a breach? Both of these approaches will come in handy as you work through the steps.
Analyzing potential cybersecurity issues (as well as looking at them after they happen) can help you better understand why something is a problem and what you can do to stop it from getting worse. Cybercriminals are relentless. They’re actively looking for any way they can to access a business, so if you don’t take the time to analyze issues as you discover them, you run the risk of missing something critical.
Once you’ve analyzed things, fix the problem to the best of your ability. If you can’t figure out exactly what needs to happen, getting help might be the way to go. The speed at which security changes these days means that staying on top of all the current threats can be hard if you’re busy managing bigger projects, so bringing in an outside team can help a lot.
You should have a disaster recovery program in place already, but if you don’t get one together. If you need to restore everything once the threat has been managed, you want it to be as easy as possible.
Documentation, best practices, and post-mortems
Accurate documentation is critical at all stages of this process. Any time you discover a new threat, you should come up with a complete list of best practices that include information like what needs to be done, who needs to be involved in the process, what success should look like, and what could go wrong during the process. The more info, the better.
More importantly, sit down after any cyberincident and look at how you responded. Did the mitigation plan work the way it should have? Did anything go wrong? What? Why? How can things be done differently next time? Be as thorough as possible and update your documentation based on what you learned after the fact.
Incident response, as you can tell, is a pretty large and often ongoing task. If you don’t have internal teams who can dedicate their time to it, it’s easy for people to lose track of it, which isn’t something you want.
Outside help from a managed services provider, like Homefield IT, can help. We spend our time learning about current threats, trends, and issues that are plaguing businesses and know how to manage them. If you want help putting your incident response plan together, contact us today.